Video Of Police Tasering Black Man In Front Of His Kids Is Both Heartbreaking And Infuriating


As a writer, you try to keep my distance from the stories you cover, but I have to admit this one got to me. There is something so stunningly inhumane about the way the police treated this man. Something so tragic about the way his children had to watch as he was brutalized at their hands for no clear reason.

As a child, there is something heroic about your parents. You look up to them. To have to watch as your father was screaming for help while several officers shocked him is a betrayal. These officers stole something from those children that day. It can’t be fixed with time. No amount of money in a lawsuit or official police reprimands will remove that image of their father being prodded. That is a part of them now.

In January, St. Paul Police Department officers were summoned to the skyway in the First National Bank Building to deal with a man who was said to be loitering. They found Chris Lollie sitting in front of the shops. After the officer begins escorting him away, he starts recording the incident.

On the video, he explains to the officer that he is not “loitering,” he was just killing time before picking up his kids in a few minutes at a nearby school. The officer demands to know his name, but since he had committed no crime he declines to give her one (which he is legally allowed to do in Minnesota).

The officer still treats Lollie as if he had committed a crime, although what that would be is never said. Lollie tells the officer, “First off, that’s a public area. And if there’s no sign that [says], ‘This is a private area, you can’t sit here,’ no one can tell me I can’t sit here.”

The officer begins to say “The problem is…” before Lollie answers the rest.

“The problem is I’m black. That’s the problem,” he says. “It really is because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

At this point both the officer and Lollie are calm and collected. But when the two run into another officer, things quickly spiral out of control.

Almost as soon as the second officer arrives, he declares that Lollie is going to “go to jail.” For what? They hadn’t decided yet.

“I’ve got to go get my kids,” the man pleads.

Very quickly the altercation turns physical. The second cops yells at Lollie to put his hands behind his back or “it’s going to get ugly.” Then he brings out a taser. The phone is dropped and the picture is lost, but you can still hear the audio. It’s upsetting to say the least.

The man screams out for help as the taser can be heard clicking over and over. It appears that Lollie is crying at some point. Later, he tells the officers that his kids are standing nearby, but they ignore his comments.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m a working man. I take care of my kids. And I get this?” he says near the end of the recording, “And you tase me. For what? I don’t have any weapons. You’re the ones with the weapons here.”

It’s stunning to think that the police allowed this to go on while the man’s young children watched on. What lessons are they learning about how the police treat people of color? How do experiences like this help to foster a sense of trust in the officers of the law?

According to City Pages, the police charged Lollie with “trespassing, disorderly conduct, and obstructing legal process.” All of the charges have since been dismissed – for the simple fact that they were ludicrous to begin with. Still, despite the abuse and trumped up charges, the St. Paul Police Department has said that it is not investigating the officers’ behavior. A man can be tased in front of his children, charged with “trespassing” for sitting in a public space, and the department finds no reason to look into it.

Where’s the dignity?