Community members and ministers met with St. Paul officials Monday to discuss the “level of aggression” used in the tasering and arrest of a man in a city skyway last winter — an incident he videotaped.
The group also watched footage from surveillance cameras inside the skyway when officers arrested Chris V. Lollie, 28, in January.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief Tom Smith emerged with leaders of the NAACP, the African-American Leadership Council and the St. Paul Black Ministerial Alliance after the meeting at New Hope Baptist Church in St. Paul to give short statements. They took no questions from reporters.
“We do have some concerns regarding the level of aggression” of two officers involved in the arrest, said the Rev. Charles Gill, president of the Ministerial Alliance. “But we are working through the St. Paul Police Department to try to get to the bottom of this.”
Lollie said he was waiting to pick up his children from preschool Jan. 31 when a security guard tried to kick him out of a bank lounge downtown. Guards called police when Lollie refused to leave. Officers tasered and arrested him. He was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. Those charges were dropped in July.
Lollie filmed his arrest with his phone, and the five-minute YouTube video shows one and then another St. Paul officer following Lollie through the skyway. The video has attracted nationwide media coverage.
Lollie is black. At least two of the arresting officers in the video are white. A third is not seen. Police reports show that officer Lori Hayne arrived first, followed by officers Michael Johnson and Bruce Schmidt.
After Monday’s meeting, Gill said the leaders have “no issue” with Hayne’s actions. The organizations have “a great relationship” with St. Paul police, he added.
Last week, Coleman asked for the city’s Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission to look into the arrest. “We appreciate the concerns that have been raised here,” he said Monday. “We’ll continue to work through to provide adequate and sufficient answers for the community to make sure that they know … when the police say they are there to protect and serve, they are there to protect and serve everyone in this community without regard to race.”
Smith, who has defended his officers’ actions, pledged Monday to be “very transparent” with the investigation. “I can tell you even the officers involved will welcome this investigation into what occurred that day,” he added.