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Black teen arrested for walking home from work in Texas snowstorm: 'I fit a description'

"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.

Black teen arrested for walking home from work in Texas snowstorm: 'I fit a description'
Cover Image Source: Plano Police Department Officer Body Cam

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.



"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.



"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.



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."



"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."



"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."



"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."



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."

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