The Minneapolis Police Department is conducting an investigation after a white officer was filmed punching a Black teenager, Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Thursday.
A four-minute video of the encounter circulated on social media after it was shared by The Racial Justice Network on Facebook.
The footage was taken by a bystander, who recorded the north Minneapolis encounter on Wednesday night, following a carjacking and police pursuit. Witnesses say an officer punched a Black teenager who was already restrained during the incident.
“We are going to conduct a very thorough investigation,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who would not commit to releasing body camera footage of the encounter.
The footage begins with a group of Black teenagers and Minneapolis and Robbinsdale police arguing in suburban New Hope. Officers led a teenage carjacking suspect away as the crowd grew increasingly agitated, saying officers had the wrong person.
When the conflict escalated, an officer struck a different teen in the face with his fist, knocking him to the ground. A scuffle broke out.
“This is police brutality, bro!” the teenager filming said. “Why did you hit him?” Multiple officers pinned the teenager to the ground after the punch was thrown. The footage does not make clear what preceded the physical strike.
The Racial Justice Network said that during the incident “five officers surrounded another Black teenager, with two of them holding him, and another large white male police officer winding up and taking a full swing punch to the teenager’s head.”
It’s not clear what injuries the teen suffered, said Pete Gamades, a spokesperson for The Racial Justice Network.
Arradondo said he didn’t know if there was a connection between the carjacking suspect and the teen who was punched, but added, “We are going to conduct a very thorough investigation.”
Eli Darris, a Smart Justice organizer with the Minnesota ACLU, condemned the officer’s conduct.
“We saw a young person brutalized and dehumanized. We saw something that we would never see in Edina,” Darris said. “And then as he laid on the ground, more punches, more brutalization and more dehumanization.”
Arradondo urged the public to give the department time to conduct an investigation.