Texas police have released and dropped charges against an 18-year-old Black teen who was detained by officers investigating a call about a person having difficulty walking in wintery conditions earlier this month.
Plano Police said that someone called about a Black man wearing a short-sleeve shirt stumbling along the road in icy weather. Police officials revealed that the call was then dispatched to responding officers as a welfare check.
“Just ‘cause I’m Black, that’s it. It’s ‘cause I’m Black, I fit a description. It hurts, man,” Reese said. “I don’t even think the call would’ve happened [if I wasn’t Black]. Honestly, I really don’t.”
After being stopped and questioned by the police, the teen expressed multiple times that he was well and he wasn’t in any danger.
Body camera footage of the encounter captures police officers insisting that something must be wrong with him for walking in the street.
An 18-year old black man — Rodney Reese — was walking home from work at @Walmart during #TexasFreeze when @PlanoPoliceDept officers charged him with “Pedestrian in the Roadway”, Tuesday. He spent the night in jail. I’m speaking with him — and the Chief of Police, tonight. @FOX4
— David Sentendrey (@DavidSFOX4) February 21, 2021
“Alright, but you’re walking in the middle of the road,” an officer said.
“Dude, stop, we’re trying to help you,” another officer, exiting from a police cruiser, said as he extended an offer to drive Reese to his destination.
“Nah, I’m straight,” Reese replied.
After several questions about his well-being, Reese explained that winter conditions obstructed his path on his way home.
Moments later, after following the teen for minutes, officers arrested him for walking in the street. Fox 4 News reported that police officially charged Reese with a violation for being a pedestrian in the roadway.
“They just treated me like I was a criminal or something,” he said.
Plano Police Chief Ed Drain was in support of the officers conducting what he said was a wellness check, he acknowledged that Reese shouldn’t have been arrested during the encounter.
“They should’ve taken him home, is where he should’ve gone,” Drain added.
— Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC) February 22, 2021
Police said that Reese, who was arrested on a misdemeanor charge, was not charged with resisting arrest in the incident, according to the New York Post.
Drain also revealed that the misdemeanor charge against Reese was thrown out because the officers were on the scene to conduct a welfare check, not to engage a suspect.
Drain said he doesn’t believe that the decision to arrest Reese was racially motivated, adding he “can’t get inside people’s hearts” and minds. However, the police department said it will later evaluate if the incident warrants an investigation.
“There’s a lot of information that we know about this case that we didn’t know at the time. Those officers didn’t know his age. They didn’t know he was 18. They didn’t know he worked at Walmart. They didn’t know where he lived,” Drain said.
The friends and family of Reese say he’s an upstanding citizen with an unblemished record, who was scared and wanted to get home, according to Fox 4 News.Read MoreBlavity News