Edina arrest: Officer won't be suspended, but city asks state to investigate

The citation against the man has also been dropped.
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The city of Edina is asking state agents to investigate last week's arrest of a black man who was walking down the street.

City officials also said Monday the officer who handled the case of Larnie Thomas followed Edina police policy – so he will not be suspended, and there will be no apology.

The city's announcement is in response to requests from the Minneapolis NAACP. They said officials will take a closer look at those police protocols to see if similar situations can be handled more sensitively in the future.

Edina invited the community and the NAACP to offer suggestions and take part in discussions about what can be learned from the case.

What happened?

Larnie Thomas was walking down Xerxes Avenue in Edina around noon on Oct. 12. Police said an officer stopped him because he was walking in a lane of traffic and was a safety hazard.

Part of the incident was captured on video, and it shows the officer grabbing and holding onto Thomas' arm, while Thomas is yelling for the officer to get his hands off him. Thomas also asks why he is being detained.

The video prompted outrage from people across the country, who claimed Thomas would not have been stopped if he was white. The Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP called the incident "dehumanizing and degrading," noting it "merely reinforces the urgent need for police reform" in Minnesota and across the country.

The NAACP listed six requests:

  • An independent investigation
  • Suspension of the arresting officer – Lt. Tim Olson – without pay
  • That Edina police collect data on race during traffic stops and use it to reform procedures
  • That Edina's mayor and police chief apologize to Thomas and the public
  • Bias training for all Edina police officers
  • That Edina police implement best practices from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing

Edina's response

Monday afternoon's statement came from three Edina officials – Mayor Jim Hovland, City Manager Scott Neal, and Police Chief Dave Nelson.

Here's how they responded to each of the NAACP's requests:

  • They're asking the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for an independent investigation of the incident
  • Lt. Olson will not be suspended because he followed procedures, Edina says
  • The city would like to sit down with the NAACP to talk more about collecting data on race and how to use it
  • Edina is making no apologies but is reviewing police protocols and invites the public to join a discussion about what lessons can be learned
  • Police will get more training on explicit and implicit bias, with specific suggestions from the NAACP welcome
  • Edina will work with the community on reviewing the federal report on policing and the city's own procudures

In a statement released Sunday evening, Mayor Hovland said Thomas was not taken to jail – he was driven to a local mall and released, per his request, Hovland says. Thomas was issued a citation, but it has since been dropped, Hovland added.

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