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Edina mayor, council apologize over police treatment of black man in video

Around 150 people crammed into an Edina City Council meeting to make their feelings known about last week's viral video involving a black man and a police officer
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The mayor and other Edina city leaders have apologized to a black man over an incident caught on camera last week when he was confronted by a police officer for walking in the street.

Around 150 people crammed into an Edina City Council meeting Tuesday evening where more than three hours of public comments were heard after the controversial developments involving Edina Police Lt. Tim Olson on Xerxes Ave last Tuesday.

Footage of part of the incident was taken by an onlooker, which showed Olson grabbing 34-year-old Larnie Thomas by his jacket and reprimanding him for walking in the street as he avoided a construction zone, with Thomas swearing at the officer in return.

The video, which you can watch below, has been viewed more than 14 million times.

The city has rejected calls to suspend Olson for his actions, but did say it would work to improve police training. And Mayor Jim Hovland was among those who offered apologies at Tuesday's meeting, which you can watch here.

Speaking to a commenter, Hovland said: "When you said, 'You should give him an apology,' that's the appropriate thing to say, and I think I'm going to meet him [Larnie Thomas] face-to-face because it's one thing to sit up here and another thing to tell him face-to-face. That will be my first act."

Council member Bob Stewart also apologized, saying at the meeting: "I think we can do better. I will say to Larnie Thomas, I'm sorry," he said, adding, "we will work to have it not happen again."

'Disgust' over man's treatment

At the start of the meeting, Hovland sought to avoid arguments about whether the actions of both Thomas and Lt. Olson were right or wrong, saying: "We know we could do better as a community and we know the officer followed protocol, but when you see the video tape, regardless of who you are, it's disconcerting."

The first person to speak at the meeting was Cathy Jones of the Minneapolis NCAAP, who said they were "absolutely disgusted" by the video, adding that Thomas was "treated like an animal."

"I hope you will change your mind and he [Olson] will be suspended," adding that the kinder gestures shown toward the end of the video were "merely because he realized he was being taped."

Some residents disagreed with Hovland's insistence that Olson followed protocol, with speaker Carol Overland, formerly of Edina but now living in Red Wing, saying: "I am an older woman of white privilege and I am appalled that this is happening and I think every other white person in this room has an obligation to dig into this. "This is protocol? No, this is not protocol. Show me the protocol, because if it is then this has got to be changed."

Mayor Hovland did say that the city had asked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to carry out an investigation into the incident, but the agency declined.

The citation issued to Thomas by Olson has been dismissed, though.

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