"I'm working at Walmart, serving the community, and they just come and harass me. I didn't need their service. I just wanted to go home," the 18-year-old said.
Police in Texas arrested an 18-year-old Walmart worker while walking home from work in icy conditions during last week's Texas snowstorm. According to The Guardian, high school senior Rodney Reese was arrested on 16 February in Plano and charged with being a pedestrian in the roadway. Police said that they received a call about a Black man wearing a short-sleeved shirt stumbling along in the middle of the snowy street at night and were sent to perform a wellness check. At least one officer's camera captured the seven-minute encounter which shows cops following Reese and repeatedly asking him where he is going.
Police drop charge against black man arrested for walking home in Texas snowstorm https://t.co/I6X1EMgoyM— Guardian news (@guardiannews) February 22, 2021
"Hey man. You trying to get home?" an unidentified Plano police officer is heard asking Reese in the body camera footage, to which he replied: "I'm on the way home, I'm straight." The cop continued to ask him if he needs a ride home and if he is OK and at one point tells the teen that he was walking in the roadway. "My bad," Reese replied, later telling officers that he was walking on the road to avoid the ice and snow to the side of it. However, police continue to push for answers in the seven-minute encounter, repeatedly asking Reese where he is going and for his name.
In the middle of the Texas storm, @PlanoPoliceDept arrested high school senior Rodney Reese walking home from work.— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) February 24, 2021
He had committed no crime, explained himself, but was held overnight. Basically arrested for “walking while Black.” The officers should face consequences. https://t.co/1Qt55Zqv5T
"We're just trying to figure out where you're going," one officer is heard saying in the video. "Home! I just said that," Reese responds. Things then escalated in an alleyway when a male officer tells the teen that they were "doing an investigation" on him, which prompted Reese to ask: "I don't care. I'm going home." After they inform him that he is being officially detained, police are then seen trying to handcuff the teenager and alleging that he pushed an officer.
An 18-year old black man — Rodney Reese — was walking home from work at @Walmart during #TexasFreeze when @PlanoPoliceDept officers charged him with “Pedestrian in the Roadway”, Tuesday. He spent the night in jail. I’m speaking with him — and the Chief of Police, tonight. @FOX4 pic.twitter.com/g6f02okXM1— David Sentendrey (@DavidSFOX4) February 21, 2021
Reese spent the night in jail. Speaking to NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, he said: "I'm working at Walmart, serving the community, and they just come and harass me. I didn't need their service. I just wanted to go home." He explained that he did not stop and talk to the officers because he does not trust the police. "That's why young Black men like me, we're scared of the police because they kill and arrest us. That's why I didn't want to answer a question," he said. "I wanted to go home."
ICYMI: Charge dropped for 18-year old Rodney Reese — arrested for walking along a street while coming home from work during #TexasFreeze. Nearly to his mom’s house — but spent the night in jail. Below is the first half of my report. FULL REPORT HERE: https://t.co/hxzQjS2Djl @FOX4 pic.twitter.com/h54wUiXJeB— David Sentendrey (@DavidSFOX4) February 22, 2021
"They just treated me like I was a criminal or something," Reese said in an interview with FOX 4. "Just a simple encounter. A simple encounter. That's why I tried to dodge it, so I could make it home, I don't know." His only charge, for walking on the roadway, was later dropped at the direction of the police chief. Reese's mother, Rachel Brown, said in a press conference Monday that her son has no criminal history and that they want to ensure his record is wiped clean. "This is my child," she said. "He's 18, he's huge but that is my son. That is my baby and to see him done this way. And I'm constantly on him, 'RJ, make sure you make good choices: good choices, good choices.' Walk a straight line. And that night he was walking a straight line and it landed him a night in jail."
HIS OWN WORDS: I gave Rodney Reese (18) — who was arrested for walking along the street during a snow storm, last week — an open mic as our interview closed. “It hurts, man. You don’t know if you’re going to make it back home.” FULL STORY: https://t.co/hxzQjS2Djl @FOX4 pic.twitter.com/9WjkSV6XFk— David Sentendrey (@DavidSFOX4) February 23, 2021
"He probably rang up groceries for some of those officers' wives or family that night," Brown said. "He stayed over late because there were so many people that called into work that day because the roads were so bad. And they asked him can you stay over to help us get the store ready for the next day and he said, 'I'll do it.' It just kills me. I'm disturbed inside to know that my child, who's big, this is my child. This is my child! This is my baby. He's big but this is my baby and to see him being arrested, violated the way he was... I moved to Plano for a reason," Brown said. "And that reason backfired on me."
ICYMI: @PlanoPoliceDept Chief Ed Drain speaks of dropping a "Pedestrian in the Roadway" charge against Rodney Reese. The teen was arrested while walking home from work during #TexasFreeze. "I can understand why our community is upset..." @FOX4 FULL STORY: https://t.co/I2bJ7Z3bsM pic.twitter.com/73Dug69wmT— David Sentendrey (@DavidSFOX4) February 24, 2021
"I pay more to live in the area that I live in," Brown said. "And yet the people that I pay taxes to, I pay their salary, they didn't serve him that night. They failed him that night. He worked a late shift and he was rewarded with a night in jail. To me, that eats me up inside." Plano Police Chief Ed Drain said that the department has dropped charges against Reese because the arrest did not match the reason that officers were dispatched. "There’s a lot of information that we know about this case that we didn’t know at the time. 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 said. "They should’ve taken him home, is where he should've gone."
Texas police dropped charges against a Black 18-year-old arrested for walking home.— AJ+ (@ajplus) February 23, 2021
Rodney Reese had ended his shift at Walmart when police cuffed him near home for a "welfare check," charging him for walking in the street.
He said he was trying to avoid ice on the sidewalks. pic.twitter.com/KKs4BYSjnP
While Chief Drain said he doesn't believe race was a factor in the arrest, Reese feels otherwise. "Just 'cause I'm Black, that's it. It's 'cause I'm Black, I fit a description. It hurts, man," he said. "I don't even think the call would've happened [if I wasn't Black]. Honestly, I really don't."