Police release surveillance video of controversial St. Paul skyway arrest


St. Paul police released surveillance video Wednesday of the events leading up to the controversial arrest of man in a St. Paul skyway.

Chris Lollie, 28, posted a cellphone video last month that showed him being confronted by St. Paul police in the January incident. The YouTube video, titled “Black man taken to jail for sitting in public area,” has been viewed more than 1.2 million times online and has attracted national attention since being posted on Aug. 26.

Lollie has said he was sitting in a skyway-level seating area in the First National Bank Building Jan. 31, waiting to pick up his children from a nearby preschool, when a security 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.

In the cellphone video, St. Paul police ask Lollie his name and he declines to give it. Police said Lollie pulled away and resisted them, so they used a Taser to subdue and arrest him.

In an effort to provide context to what happened before police arrested Lollie, officials walked the media through two different surveillance videos Wednesday, which totaled 23 minutes of footage, according to KSTP.

The videos, which didn't have audio, showed the moment Lollie sat down at the bank building through the moment he was Tasered and arrested.

The surveillance video from the First National Bank Building shows Lollie sitting in a seating area. Another person sits down, and a few minutes later a security guard appears to say something to Lollie and another other person before leaving, the Pioneer Press says. A few minutes later, someone else sits down in the area and the security guard returns and appears to say something again. A woman got up and walked away, while the guard appeared to talk longer with Lollie, as well as another person sitting in the area, the Star Tribune says.

Eventually, Lollie gets up and walks away. The second video, which is from the Securian building, shows an officer speaking with Lollie. Two other officers arrive separately and continue to talk to Lollie, reports say.

Officer Bruce Schmidt eventually takes out his Taser, according to reports. Police said Schmidt warned Lollie twice before he Tasered him, but this isn't evident on the video because it didn't have sound.

Police didn't take questions after showing the videos and said they wouldn't speak on the issue because it's an ongoing internal affairs investigation, WCCO notes.

MPR News has put a side-by-side video together. Surveillance camera video is on the left and the cellphone video taken by Lollie is on the right:

Legal action

Following his arrest, Lollie was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. The St. Paul City Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against him July 31.

Much of the legal discussion surrounding the incident has focused on whether Lollie was indeed sitting in a public area, or trespassing on private property. According to the St. Paul city attorney, Lollie was actually seated in the public area, not in private property as a security guard reported to officers before the incident.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has ordered a full review of the incident and last week Lollie announced his intention to file a complaint and sue the city of St. Paul.

“I want to see cops really answer for how they treat people,” Lollie told the Star Tribune. “My civil rights were violated.”

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