- It was an early morning when the interviewee was at Walmart. She stated she heard a commotion, and recognized one of the voices as her neighbor.
- She reports her male neighbor is older and disabled, but describes him as kind and helpful. She approached him, and said he seemed calm.
- Other bystanders warned her not to go near him, allegedly because he had a knife. The interviewee saw no weapon.
- She reports she engaged in a normal conversation with the man as a cashier finished serving him.
- Suddenly police were surrounding them, with their guns drawn.
- She believes she witnessed the police escalate what had been a calm situation
- She describes the memory in as traumatic, shocking, and frightening as it put her and the others lives needlessly at risk
- She believes that the police used excessive force to restrain the elderly disabled man.
- She protested that the police were not doing their job and escalating an issue that was already de-escalated.
- She states the police knew the man as they have had contact with him in the past. So they may have arrived on the scene fully aware of his disabilities.
- The mother said several witnesses, some of whom are employees of Walmart, approached her and said they saw the elderly man enter the bathroom and leave with a swollen/bloody eye.
- The employees also relayed that Walmart and the police advised them not to give any statements about the incident, threatening their jobs.
RJC Notes: Members of the man’s family, church, and Racial Justice Coalition members have twice attempted to watch the proceedings against this man in court, only to have the court move the man’s hearing up several hours, denying them an opportunity to learn how his case is proceeding.
We have discussed the event with several other witnesses who have relayed that they believe this man was the possible victim of a hate crime from a white man (with an anecdotal history of provocation of marginalized persons) who may have provoked him into an altercation in the bathroom. It appears that white man did not want to file charges but the police and State’s Attorney appear to have escalated the charges regardless of the white man’s wishes.
We have gathered anecdotal accounts that some witnesses may have had their jobs threatened by both MPD and possibly their employer should they give witness statements which would clarify the facts surrounding the arrest, which appears to have been excessive force, and possibly implicate MPD in a possible Obstruction of Justice to keep the facts from being heard in the man’s defense. Furthermore, his being held away from his family for so long, with repeated continuances, appears to follow an emerging, troubling pattern of Black people being held longer to possibly pressure them into accepting bad plea agreements to move their cases forward into resolution, even if detrimental and unwarranted based upon the alleged “crime.”