Around noon this past Sunday, a police officer stopped at a church picnic in a local park following a report that some kids were fighting. He cited 11-year-old Tyrell Tucker for assault because the boy had been scuffling with an older teen who wasn’t with the church group. (Tyrell said the other boy had initiated the interaction, and they were both trying to poke each other with sticks. Even if that’s not totally accurate, this happened at a park that isn’t large enough for the ruckus to be out of sight of the adult church members.)
But the situation didn’t escalate until the cop asked Tyrell’s mother to sign some papers acknowledging his citation before he released the 11-year-old to return to the party. As the officer waited for her signature, he began verbally attacking her.
“Just get your (expletive) kid and get out of here,” Tyrell’s mother, Edna Waddle, was shocked to be told. “He was like, ‘What kind of (expletive) mother are you? You’ve got your fat (expletive) up at the (expletive) picnic table eating at the buffet when your son just assaulted somebody.'”
At this point, Edna’s older son, 15-year-old Tyree, stepped in, trying to defend his mother’s honor:
“He said, ‘Maybe you should be watching your kids instead of being in the buffet line eating with your fat ass’,” Tucker told KARE.
“That’s when I said ‘That’s disrespectful’.”
The Como Park High School sophomore says he illustrated the point by asking the officer how he’d feel if someone talked to him the same way.
“I told him ‘That’s likes somebody calling you a (expletive) pig, you know, and we’re going to eat bacon right in front of you’,” Tucker recalled telling the officer, through the open window of his patrol vehicle.
He said that Officer Johnston then got out of his patrol car and told him he was under arrest. When Tucker said the officer had no cause to arrest him, and couldn’t touch him, the officer wrestled him to the ground.
Here’s a local news report, in which you can see footage of the officer laying on top of Tyree, pinning the boy in a chokehold while his family and fellow church members object. Alex Weston, the church member who filmed clip, said “the very worst” of the confrontation had already occurred by the time he got his camera rolling:
Tyree was ultimately released, but his mom spent the night in jail on charges of assault and obstructing an officer. “I don’t even have a parking ticket, you know, and it’s like, holy cow, I’m being arrested for what? You tell me!” she said. “I was trying to be a mother, to comfort my son during this traumatic experience that could have absolutely been avoided.”
It definitely could have been avoided.
I live in this neighborhood. I’ve walked my dog in the park where this happened. I’ve visited the church that was hosting this picnic, and I trust their account of the officer’s misconduct.
The St. Paul Police Department says it’s investigating the incident, but as I’ve documented before here at Rare, it doesn’t have the greatest track record. Hopefully the quick thinking of Weston and the testimony of the church can set this situation right.