Written by: AnonScarlett
A video and audio recording taken in January that’s surfaced in late August appears to capture an unarmed, unaggressive St. Paul, Minnesota, man being immobilized with a stun gun in front of his children. The video — captured by Christopher Lollie, a musician from East St. Paul — is titled “Black man taken to jail for sitting in a public area.” It was uploaded to YouTube and has been viewed more than 20,000 times since. In the video description, Lollie wrote that police confiscated his phone after the arrest and held it for 6 months.
The video begins with a conversation between Lollie and a white female St. Paul officer who followed him through a skyway. During the exchange, the officer asks Lollie for his name repeatedly; however, he declined to give it to her without an explanation of why he must. She replied, “Because that’s what police do when they’re called.”
“Well, I know my rights, first off,” Lollie replied calmly. “Secondly, I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws.”
Lollie then explained that he was on his way to New Horizons Academy to pick up his children and had been sitting in a public area for about 10 minutes before an irate man approached him.
“That’s a public area,” he said. “If there’s no sign that says, ‘This is a private area, you can’t sit here,’ no one can tell me I can’t sit there.”
Over the course of a minute-long stroll, Lollie repeatedly told the officer that there was no problem. He explained that he had been sitting alone after getting off of work, telling the officer: “The problem is: I’m black.” Shortly after that exchange a second officer approaches and quickly escalates the situation. Lollie called out to the approaching male officer — who is also white — who asked what was happening. Lollie repeated his intention to pick up his children as the officer moved to grab him.
“I’ve got to go get my kids,” the man tells the second officer, pulling his arm away while asking not to be touched.
When Lollie asked not to be touched, the officer replied, “Well, you’re going to go to jail then.”
Lollie protested that he had not done anything wrong, and urged officers to wait; however, both continued to try and restrain him while telling him he was jail-bound.
“Come on, brother — this is assault,” Lollie said.
“I’m not here to argue, and I’m not your brother,” the male officer replied.
“I’m not doing anything wrong, sir,” Lollie stated once more.
“Put your hands behind your back, or this is gonna get ugly,” the male officer said.
The video tumbles to black as the male officer says, “You’re gonna get Tased.” At that point, a conversation that had been calm and respectful escalated to cries for help, and pleas for the officers to stop after he saw his children appear.
“My kids are right there!” he cried as the officer shouted at him to put his hands behind his back.
The clicking of the Taser can be heard shortly after Lollie asked an officer not to choke him, explaining that he has asthma. His cries echoed off the walls while the officers restrained him. Afterward, Lollie openly criticized the officers as racist and accused them of assault.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m a working man. I take care of my kids, and I get this? You Tase me? For what?” he demanded. “I don’t have any f——- weapons. You’re the ones with the weapons here.”
Prior to the Taser deployment, Lollie neither raised his voice nor cursed at officers — a point he iterated once he was apparently cuffed. He also pleaded with police to let him go to his children, but was told, “Too late. You’re going to jail.”
In a statement St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith actually defends his officers’ actions as appropriate. He also contended that the video didn’t convey the whole picture, and stated that his officers were called by private security over a man who was trespassing in an employee’s only area of the First National Bank Building and refused to leave.
“He pulled away and resisted officers’ lawful orders,” Smith said. “They then used the force necessary to safely take him into custody.”
Smith said his officers believed Lollie might either run or fight with him, and that is why they decided to arrest him. Lollie was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process. In July, all charges against him were dropped.