Police Pointed A Gun At Four Black Boys After A 911 Caller Falsely Claimed They Were Armed
A witness, who filmed the incident, said she'd previously seen a young white man "spouting racial slurs at them and aggressing them with a metal trash can lid and saying he had a knife."
Park police in Minneapolis handcuffed and drew a gun on four black boys on Tuesday after a 911 caller falsely claimed they had weapons.
Brianna Lindell, who witnessed and filmed the incident at Minnehaha Regional Park, said on Facebook that she'd previously seen a white male who looked about 17 years old "spouting racial slurs at them and aggressing them with a metal trash can lid and saying he had a knife."
Lindell said the white male was with a woman who was using her phone and believes that that woman later made the 911 call.
Onlookers "approached and seemed to deescalate the situation," Lindell said.
Lindell did not immediately respond to request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
Minneapolis Park Police showed up and handcuffed the four boys, two of whom were 13, the others 14 and 16.
Two were put in the back of the cop car, and the other two were seated on the ground in front of it.
In a now-viral video of the incident, one of the boys repeatedly asks if he can put on his shirt, which was near him on the ground, because he was getting bitten by mosquitos.
"My partner tossed him his shirt and a cop jumped out of the squad car and started yelling at us that we were interfering with an arrest," Lindell wrote on Facebook.
The officers ignored the shirtless boy's multiple requests and eventually moved the two boys from the ground into the cop car.
Lindell said she asked one of the officers "why he was arresting the kids as they’d done nothing wrong and he said they had received a call that the kids had a gun."
An officer, who speaks to Lindell in the video, said the handcuffed boys were "not under arrest."
Lindell said onlookers told her that "both cops had jumped out of their cars, guns already drawn, with the guns right in the children’s faces."
The police, who were wearing body cameras during the incident, said in a statement the next day, "No weapons were found" on the boys.
Police said the 911 caller had "reported four males holding knives and sticks," "stated one suspect said he had a gun in his backpack," and claimed "the suspects were assaulting the 911 caller’s boyfriend."
One of the officers did point a gun at the boys, police confirmed.
Three of the boys were released at the park unharmed, police said, with the fourth boy being deemed a runaway and brought to the Juvenile Supervision Center. He has since been released.
The incident, as well as the "validity of the 911 call," is now being investigated. Police said they "were unable to contact, on scene or by phone, the 911 caller or the 911 caller’s boyfriend."
Witness descriptions of the incident "were inconsistent with the 911 callers account of the incident," police said.
Making a false report of a crime "is a misdemeanor-level criminal offense" in Minnesota, they said.
On Wednesday, Minnesota's chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations said the boys were targeted for being Somali.
“There must be an immediate independent and transparent investigation of this potentially-deadly police response to and allegedly false report targeting minority youth,” said Jaylani Hussein, the chapter's executive director.