Rodney Reese, 18, alleges he was the victim of racial profiling by Plano officers, who say they were responding to a welfare call about a Black male seen "stumbling"

By Jeff Truesdell
February 22, 2021 04:14 PM
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Rodney Reese
| Credit: Plano Police Department

A Black Texas teen who spent a night in jail after his arrest for walking in the street about 11 p.m. in short sleeves with snow and ice on the ground won't be charged, says the chief of the Plano police department.

Rodney Reese, 18, alleges he was a victim of racial profiling as he made his way home after a work shift at Walmart.

"It's 'cause I'm Black, I fit a description. It hurts, man," he told KDFW-TV. "I don't even think the call would've happened [if I wasn't Black]. Honestly, I really don't."

In a Facebook post, Plano police on Friday defended its officers' actions in the Feb. 16 incident, saying that arresting officers were responding to a "welfare concern call where a caller stated that a Black male subject wearing a short-sleeve shirt and shorts was walking down Hedgcoxe Road and was stumbling. Responding officers located the subject, and although he was wearing a short-sleeve shirt, he did have long pants."

According to the post, "Temperatures at that time were in the teens, with snow and ice on the ground. Concerned for his welfare and the possibility of the subject being in a mental crisis, delusional, or impaired, the officers attempted to contact him."

"As the officers continued to speak with the subject, he continued walking away from them. Officers repeatedly told him they were there to help him. The officers followed him for quite a distance when one officer advised over his vehicle PA system that we needed to speak with him and could offer him help."

Reese told KDFW that he kept walking because he didn't need help as he continued toward his mother's house a few blocks away.

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In body cam video released on Facebook by police, Reese can be heard repeatedly telling officers that he's fine and is going home. But for more than two minutes, the officers continue to follow before stopping him, explaining they are "doing an investigation" and he's being detained, reports CBS DFW.

"Officers ask where was his home and he does not answer," the police department said in its Facebook post. "One of the officers stands in front of the subject to block his path while another officer tells him he is being lawfully detained for the violation of pedestrian in the roadway as he was seen walking in middle of the street."

The post continues: "After being told he was being lawfully detained, the subject responded with 'no' and attempts to walk around the officers. Officers then attempted to place the subject in handcuffs. While doing so, the subject resists their efforts to handcuff him."

Reese told KDFW: "They just treated me like I was a criminal or something." He said he was in the street to avoid the ice and snow on the side of the road.

"There's a lot of information that we know about this case that we didn't know at the time," police Chief Ed Drain told KDFW. "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."

He added: "They should've taken him home, is where he should've gone."

The chief said he didn't believe that Reese's race entered into the stop, "but I can't get inside people's hearts, I can't get inside people's heads."

He said his department hadn't decided whether to launch an internal investigation.

The arresting officer wrote that while Reese "committed the Class B misdemeanor offense of interference with public duties by resisting officers efforts to detain and handcuff him," the officers opted to charge Reese only with the Class C misdemeanor offense of being a pedestrian in the roadway.

Drain told Fox4News that the charge has since been dropped.