A Black dance instructor in Minnesota was falsely detained by three separate suburban police departments over the weekend. Each of those departments subsequently issued an apology.
Darrius D. Strong was returning home from teaching a dance class in Bloomington, Minnesota, some 10 miles south of Minneapolis, on Friday when he saw the tell-tale lights flashing behind him.
“I could have been dead today,” Strong said in a Facebook video recorded in his car just moments after the horrifying incident.
“I’m following the rules,” he said, “I’m going the speed limit and everything. So, I get pulled over and the next thing you know, four other squad cars pull up. And they all bring their guns out.”
Strong said he quickly took stock of the situation through his mirror and then put his hands up and out the window as four law enforcement agents approached with their weapons drawn.
“They were like, you know, ‘Get out the car,'” he said. “They took me out the car, then they put me in cuffs and put me in the back seat. This whole time I’m shaking, man, I’m thinking like, ‘I don’t know what they’re going to do to me with this door closed.'”
“I’m thinking of George–George Floyd came into my head,” Strong continued. “Specifically the clip when they put him in the back and they were doing all kinds of things to him.”
Strong elaborated on the details of the traumatizing traffic stop during an interview on Sunday with local ABC affiliate KSTP:
I look up and through the rearview mirror. I see a lady cop walking up with a gun, walk up to the door, I threw my hands out the window and said, “Hey, what’s going on,” she asked, “Are you Darrius Strong?” I said, “Yes,” she said, “I want you to unbuckle your seat belt, you have a warrant out for your arrest,” I said, “Warrant, what do you mean?”
According to a public apology issued on Saturday by the three departments involved, the officers attempted to arrest Strong.
Strong was apparently the victim of identity theft, but cops didn’t know that at first and believed that he had written a forged check.
“The Bloomington, Edina and Richfield Police Departments extend their apologies to Mr. Darrius Strong who was detained Friday, July 10, after an unfortunate case of mistaken identity,” a Facebook post by the Richfield Police Department reads.
In Minnesota, forging a check is a felony and someone had apparently used Strong’s name to forge the check in question. Strong told the officers that he didn’t actually own any checks at all. He was eventually released after police checked a state database and determined that they did, in fact, have the wrong man.
While apologizing for the overall outcome of the incident, however, police disputed some of the details.
“At approximately 1 p.m., a Richfield police officer on the detail working in Bloomington noted a vehicle was speeding,” the press release claimed, taking issue with Strong’s characterization of his driving as being in accord with speed limits. “Prior to stopping Mr. Strong for the speeding offense, the officer ran the license plate of the vehicle and noted the registered owner had a suspended Minnesota driver’s license and felony-level warrant for his arrest.”
There is also a disagreement about the officers’ guns being drawn.
“The Richfield police officer approached the driver, Mr. Darrius Strong, and momentarily drew her firearm, but held it near her thigh and pointed at the ground,” the police department’s Facebook post continues. “The handgun was never pointed at Mr. Strong. No other officers had their handguns drawn.”
The Richfield Police Department said it “anticipates releasing the squad car dash camera footage” sometime Monday in an effort to “promote transparency.” Strong told KSTP he hopes that includes audio because it would bemn important to “hear our conversation and the words being said back and forth between me and the cops.”
In his own Facebook recollection, Strong said he repeatedly had to ask the officers why they had their guns drawn on him.
While both sides said Strong was compliant throughout the entirety of the ordeal, the falsely accused man said he still feared for his life.
“I felt like something was going to happen that it was going to be shady with how the whole situation goes,” he said. “This happens. This is how George Floyd died in a moment of stress. This happens.”
[image via screengrab/Facebook/Darrius D. Strong]
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