St. Louis Park, MN – “I’ve been afraid to even leave my home,” a young adult speaks out about brutality they say they faced from being racially profiled by officers from the St. Louis Park Police Department. Keeping their name anonymous for their safety, they shared their experience being the only Black person in the backseat of a car pulled over in a Minneapolis suburb and being targeted, assaulted, and arrested by police.
“I know how I’m treated simply for the color of my skin, but since that interaction, I’ve been afraid to even leave my home. Even when I’m not doing anything, I will be criminalized and brutalized.”
The incident occurred on Thursday night, July 7, when St. Louis Park Police officers pulled over a vehicle with a broken taillight. The officers “zeroed in on me,” according to the person arrested and assaulted. They said the police started to question them about not having their seat belt on: “At the time, I took off my seat belt when the car stopped because I was looking for my ID.”
A majority of what happened next was video-recorded by a person sitting in the front of the car. “More officers came and it became clear I was their target,” said the person arrested. Police officer Jacob Erickson is seen reaching through the open window of the back passenger-side and unlocking the door, demanding the person step out of the vehicle.
“Officers then opened my door and I stepped out fearing for the safety of my friends and myself. Immediately as I got out, I was tackled by four officers and handcuffed.”
The footage begins with the police saying “step out of the car” and the camera holder asking the officers “can you guys explain what’s going on right now?” The video clearly shows the person who was arrested get out of the car willingly with their hands up and walk toward the police.
The video then goes black for a second, as the camera moves out of the window of the car, and the next visible frame shows the person on the ground while muffled screams of “get off of me” can be heard. The arrested individual said at least one officer was saying “stop resisting.”
The police report noted the presence of six St. Louis Park Police Officers at the scene, Jacob Erickson, Matthew McNeely, Jordan Hellerud, Timothy Saatzer, Mohamed Mohamed, and Sgt. Robert Boies. The language used in the report by three of the officers describes that the person being arrested was “violent,” meanwhile they used the passive word choice of “escorted” to explain the take-down and arrest. One officer in the police report stated that after the person stepped out of the car, they “began violently and quickly pulling [their] arm away [from] Ofc Erickson” and said additional officers “ended up escorting the subject to the ground.”
After being brought to the ground, knelt on and then handcuffed, the person was booked into the Hennepin County Jail (Public Safety Facility) in downtown Minneapolis. They said they were further assaulted while in jail—being tackled, having their head “bashed” against the wall, and a spit mask be placed over their face.
“I was taken to Hennepin County Jail where they immediately put a spit mask over my face and bashed my head on the wall. I was tackled twice while still wearing handcuffs, once when I got in and once in my cell.”
The person allegedly gave police a false name and birthdate, and the police report indicates that this was the basis for having the person step out of the vehicle. They were given three probable cause charges from the arrest, obstructing the legal process, giving police a false name, and a seat belt violation.
After spending nearly a full day in jail, they were bailed out with $6,000 and have an upcoming court appearance. They felt it was clear that they were racially profiled and felt it could have been much worse if there weren’t witnesses.
“The whole thing was very much run-of-the-mill racial profiling. If I were by myself in that interaction, I believe I may have been murdered.”
St. Louis Park Communications Manager Jacque Smith told Unicorn Riot that the city is “aware of a video circulating on social media alleging racial bias in the July 7, 2022, arrest of [an adult] following a traffic stop at Highway 7 and Louisiana Avenue South.” Smith continued that their police department is committed to “continuing race equity work.” Read their statement below:
“The St. Louis Park Police Department is a committed participant to the city’s continuing race equity work. City and police department leadership and the St. Louis Park City Council are fully aware of the implications of race on life in America, not limited only to policing, and take it very seriously.
Complaints alleging misconduct by police department employees are always treated with serious consideration and evaluation. Complaints about an officer or other department staff can be filed online at http://bit.ly/policecomment, or call 952.924.2618 at any time.”St. Louis Park Communications Manager Jacque Smith, July 25, 2022
The person arrested is now reliving the trauma of the assaults they endured and they have a Venmo set up to help for court costs and support. Watch the video below (content advisory: police violence), posted on the 38th and Chicago GFS (George Floyd Square) Instagram account.