St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and African-American community leaders said they had a "productive" meeting Monday afternoon when they discussed the arrest of a man in a city skyway in January, which raised concerns about police conduct after his cellphone video of the incident went viral last week.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press said the leaders wanted to make clear that St. Paul is not Ferguson, Missouri, a community that has been rocked by protests for weeks after an unarmed black man was killed by a white police officer.
Still, African-American leaders say they're concerned about the "level of aggression" displayed by two white St. Paul officers when they used a stun gun on the man and arrested him.
Christopher Lollie, 28, who is black, said he was in a skyway-level seating area in the First National Bank Building on Jan. 31, waiting to pick up his children from a nearby preschool, when a guard told him to leave because he was trespassing. Lollie refused, saying he believed the area was a public space, so the guard called police.
When the officers arrived, they asked Lollie his name and he declined to give it. Police said Lollie pulled away and resisted them, so they used a stun gun to subdue and arrest him.
Lollie recorded the incident on his cellphone, and posted the video on YouTube last week with the title, “Black man taken to jail for sitting in public area."
Those who attended the Monday meeting watched footage from surveillance cameras inside the skyway that captured the incident as well. They spoke briefly to reporters after the hour-long meeting but did not answer questions, WCCO reports.
Mayor Coleman said he appreciated the concerns that were raised, saying "we'll continue to work through (them) to provide adequate and sufficient answers for the community," according to the Pioneer Press.
"We realize we have a great relationship ... with the St. Paul Police Department," said The Rev. Dr. Charles Gill, president of the St. Paul Black Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. But he said the group wants answers about police conduct, and also about security procedures at the First National Bank, where the incident took place.
A photo of the seating area, which the bank posted on its Facebook page in 2009, surfaced last week and appeared to support Lollie's claim that it was a public space since, according to WCCO, the caption read: “Need a quick five? Enjoy a seat on the skyway.”
Coleman last week asked the city’s Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission to review the police officers’ handling of the arrest.
Charges against Lollie were dropped in July. He said he's filed a complaint against the three arresting officers and plans to sue in federal court, according to FOX 9.