Police in Texas arrested an 18-year-old Walmart worker as he walked home in the snow in the middle of the road to avoid the icy sidewalks. Black teenager Rodney Reese was arrested at 10.45pm on 16 February in Plano just north of Dallas in northeastern Texas after police were called to the scene to check on a man stumbling in the snow, only wearing a T-shirt in the cold.
Police followed Mr Reese for over two minutes, asking him multiple times where he was going. Mr Reese said he was walking home from Walmart where he had worked that day. He said that since the killing of George Floyd, he gets nervous when he interacts with law enforcement officials.
Mr Reese was handcuffed after declining to tell police say his name or where he lived. He said he thought the arrest was motivated by his race.
He told FOX 4: “Just ‘cause I’m Black, that’s it. It’s ‘cause I’m Black, I fit a description. It hurts, man. I don’t even think the call would’ve happened [if I wasn’t Black]. Honestly, I really don’t.”
The charges were later dropped. Plano Police Chief Ed Drain said that the arrest didn’t comply with why officers were sent to the scene.
Living a few blocks away from his workplace, Mr Reese told officers: “I’m on the way home. I’m straight.” In the bodycam footage released by the police department, an officer can be heard responding: “Alright, but you’re walking in the middle of the road,” an officer said.
“I understand that. My bad,” Reese said.
Mr Reese spent the night in jail, later telling FOX 4: “They just treated me like I was a criminal or something.”
He said he walked in the street to avoid the ice and snow to the side of it, and that he continued to walk as the officers spoke to him because he didn’t need any help.
“Just a simple encounter. A simple encounter. That’s why I tried to dodge it, so I could make it home, I don’t know,” he said.
Chief Drain backed up his officers for checking on Mr Reese despite the dropped charges.
He said: “There’s a lot of information that we know about this case that we didn’t know at the time. Those officers didn’t know his age. They didn’t know he was 18. They didn’t know he worked at Walmart. They didn’t know where he lived.”
But Mr Drain also thought it was wrong to bring Mr Reese to jail, saying: “They should’ve taken him home, is where he should’ve gone.”
Mr Drain said he didn’t believe race had anything to do with it, but he also said that “I can’t get inside people’s hearts, I can’t get inside people’s heads”.
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