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Gun drawn on Black driver pulled over by police in Minneapolis suburb — but it was a mistake

Paul Walsh, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Black man said thoughts of George Floyd went through his head as he sat in the back of a police squad car after officers pulled him over -- at least one of them with gun drawn -- in a Minneapolis suburb until they realized they had the wrong guy.

"I could have been dead today," Darrius Strong, 30, of Burnsville, said in an account he posted on Facebook soon after what began as a traffic stop early Friday afternoon along Old Shakopee Road. "Just remember ... anything can happen to us, man, especially Black bodies ... Black people, Black men. ... Racial profiling is a thing."

A statement on behalf of the three police departments involved in the stop -- Richfield, Edina and Bloomington -- was posted early Saturday evening on Facebook by the Richfield Police Department. It included an apology to Strong, described him as compliant with the officers and explained that he was the victim of an "unfortunate case of mistaken identity" because someone using his name led to an arrest warrant being issued.

Richfield police said they would be releasing squad dashboard camera video Monday in an effort "to promote transparency" about the speeding stop led by one of their officers as part of a state traffic enforcement campaign.

Bloomington and Edina police said they would be saying more about the encounter later Monday.

Strong, who according to a Change.org petition is a fiance, father of a 1-year-old and a contemporary dancer performer and instructor who lives in nearby Burnsville, said in his video that all of the officers approached his car with "their guns out. ... I see four cops approaching, (I) stuck my hands out the damn car." However, the statement from Richfield police said, "No other officers had their handguns drawn."

 

Addressing why its officer had "momentarily" had her gun drawn, "pointed at the ground (and) "never pointed at Mr. Strong," the Richfield police statement explained that action often occurs because of "the high-risk nature of arresting individuals with felony-level warrants."

Once cuffed and in the back of the squad car, "I'm shaking. ... I don't know what they gonna do to me when this door closes. ... George Floyd came to my head, I ain't gonna lie. He came to my head thinking about ... when they put him in the back and they was doing all kinds of things to him."

Strong added that three of the officers involved in the stop were white men, prompting him to think, "'OK, here we go.'"

He said he questioned the four officers about why -- as he contended -- they all had their guns drawn, and was told he was under arrest and would have his vehicle towed because he was wanted for check forgery.

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