Metro Transit has responded to a viral video showing one of its police officers arresting a black woman after she was ordered off a bus in Minneapolis.
The video featuring 38-year-old Kenya Chandler, of Minneapolis, being handcuffed and pulled to the ground by Sgt. Tim Lawrence on Aug. 21 has been viewed more than 800,000 times on Facebook and almost 2.5 million times on Twitter.
In the 3-minute version originally posted on Facebook – which you can see at the bottom of this story – Chandler is seen clinging to the post of a bus shelter with Lawrence holding her other arm behind her back.
She claims she was being arrested because she hadn't presented her ID quickly enough.
It follows an apparent verbal altercation between Chandler and the bus driver, during which Metro Transit says she used "profane and derogatory" language.
"Ask her what she said on the bus, about white people" Sgt. Lawrence said towards the start of the video. "I said I don't like 'em," Chandler responds, before an onlooker says: "I don't think it had anything to do with race."
As Chandler tries to pull away, Lawrence pulls her down to the ground. Chandler screams as she's placed face down as an unidentified female officer helps to carry out the arrest.
Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro says it is running a boycott of Metro Transit buses in response to the incident.
"Let’s hit the powers-that-be in their pocketbooks today by refusing to ride Metro Transit busses [sic] and trains, and send a message that we will not tolerate abuse by Metro Transit Police," it stated on Facebook.
Metro Transit responds
In a statement released Monday, Metro Transit said that the incident started because Chandler got into a verbal dispute with a bus driver, during which she directed a "profane, derogatory comment" towards them.
"Use of this language can get riders removed from the bus and riding privileges canceled for 30 days. The operator, feeling unsafe, called for police assistance, as operators are trained to do."
Sgt. Lawrence, who was Metro Transit's 2017 Officer of the Year, made many attempts to deescalate the situation, with Chandler apparently refusing to get off the bus and at one point walked to the rear of the vehicle.
She shouted more abuse at the driver as she was eventually persuaded to leave. After she got off, Sgt. Lawrence continued his attempts to deescalate the situation and when this didn't work, he began to arrest her for disorderly conduct, asking her for her ID.
"The rider produced her identification from her purse, but then refused to give it to Sgt. Lawrence, instead wrapping her arm around a bus shelter post," the Metro Transit said.
"Eventually, Sgt. Lawrence, with the help of another Metro Transit police officer, took the rider to the ground so she could be handcuffed and arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct.
"Despite some claims that officers used a Taser during this incident, at this point information shows that no Taser was discharged."
Metro Transit police says it will continue to investigate the incident, with chief John Harrington saying: "We are committed to the respect of riders, operators and all employees and are looking forward to the investigation’s completion."
Here is the video – but be warned, it contains offensive language.