St. Paul, MN – St. Paul police are facing criticism for the way they arrested a 13-year-old girl in a UPS store (video below).
The incident began at about 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 when an officer spotted the 13 year old in the parking lot of the BP gas station on University Avenue, KSTP reported.
The officer knew the girl had a trespassing order in effect at the gas station and approached her.
“He knew from previous experience with the female that she has been [banned] from the property until August 2020 because she had been a chronic problem at that location,” St. Paul Police Public Information Officer Steve Linders told The Pioneer Press.
The girl fled and ran onto the light rail platform, but the officer elected not to chase her because he was concerned she might run onto the tracks and get hit by a train, KSTP reported.
Police were well-acquainted with the 13-year-old girl because she had been arrested in the past for assault, disorderly conduct, theft from person, auto theft, fleeing police on foot, obstruction the legal process, and trespassing.
So the officer checked to see if she had gone home, but the girl wasn’t there, KSTP reported.
But just as he was heading back to the station to write the report on the incident, dispatchers asked police to respond to the TJ Maxx and LA Fitness parking lot for a report of four juveniles trying to get into cars.
Police saw the juveniles entering the UPS Store in the same shopping center and followed them, KSTP reported.
The store’s owner had previously complained to police about juveniles disrupting his business.
Officers found the 13-year-old girl hiding on the floor behind a counter and ordered her to lie on her stomach, but she did not comply, KSTP reported.
Instead, police said she screamed “no” and tried to kick the officer.
When the officer attempted to take the girl into custody, she scratched him and punched him in the head, according to KSTP.
Police said she also tried to kick the officer in the groin and then her brother tried to intervene in her arrest.
“In response to her unprovoked aggression and in an effort to prevent the situation from escalating, the officer attempted to gain control of her and she continued to fight with him,” Officer Linders said, according to The Pioneer Press.
Additional officers assisted and the girl was eventually taken into custody, KSTP reported.
A store employee filmed a video of the arrest on her cell phone, during which the 13 year old can be heard cursing and screaming at police in between letting out animalistic grunts and wails.
The video showed that as the girl continued to resist arrest and officers tried to subdue her, a peanut gallery of other teenagers yelled at the police to let go of their friend.
“I was with my cousin at BP,” she shrieked at one point, and the officer reminded her that she was banned from that property, prompting her to begin wailing and shrieking again.
The video showed the girl resisted arrest and tried to get up from the floor multiple times as the officer tried to hold her down.
Even after police had handcuffed the girl and stood her up to walk her outside, the girl continued fight, kick, and scream until three officers picked her up and carried her out of the store, the video showed.
The store’s owner, Ryan Wilson, told The Pioneer Press that he saw the 13 year old try to kick an officer in the face on the way out.
“It looks terrible to watch, it’s not something you want to see, but what could they have done?” Wilson asked. “When people run from police, I don’t know what their protocol is, but they were trying to get her down to the ground because she was fighting.”
Officers also arrested the girl’s 14-year-old brother for interfering in the arrest and fighting with police, according to KSTP.
The 13-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of fourth-degree assault on an officer, obstructing legal process with force, fleeing on foot, and trespassing, The Pioneer Press reported.
Community activist and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Armstrong shared the store employee’s video to social media shortly after the incident.
"When I first saw that video I was just shocked, I was overwhelmed, I wanted to cry..." Levy-Armstrong said. "I thought it was unacceptable treatment of a child of officers who are supposed to protect and serve."
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter held a press conference on Thursday and announced that he had requested an internal investigation, KSTP reported.
Carter cautioned reporters that nobody should rush to judgment until after the investigation is completed.
"I don't think there's anyone of us who wants to see a video of a young girl, in physical interaction with a St. Paul police officer,” the mayor said. “We don't know enough to say much beyond that, yet that it's disturbing to see an image we don't want to see in our community. We owe it to ourselves to be transparent, and to be thorough, we owe it to ourselves that we check."
Officer Linders said that St. Paul police administration officials would be reviewing the incident to make sure the officers’ actions fell within department policy, The Pioneer Press reported.
"We know that arresting a person who is physically resisting can be difficult to watch, but we’re thankful that no one was seriously injured," Officer Linders told KARE.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below: