Police have dropped a charge against a Black teen from Plano, Texas, after said teen was arrested last week for walking in the middle of the street when the state was freezing over.
Local police chief Ed Drain told KDFW-TV that a charge against 18-year-old Rodney Reese is being dropped. Reese had spent a night in jail after Plano police approached him as he walked home from work. He was charged with being a pedestrian in the roadway.
“There’s a lot information that we know about this case that we didn’t know at the time,” Drain said to that outlet. “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.”
Reese told the same TV station that he thinks his race is what led to his arrest.
“Just ‘cause I’m Black, that’s it,” he said. “I don’t think the call would’ve happened [if I wasn’t Black]. Honestly, I really don’t.”
Plano police were called as part of a welfare check just before 11 p.m. on Tuesday, February 16. The caller said a Black man was wearing short-sleeves, shorts, and was stumbling. Temperatures were in the teens, and the road was covered with snow and ice.
Reese was subsequently located by officers following the call. At the time he was reportedly wearing short-sleeves and long pants, and was just a few blocks from his home. He later told KDFW-TV he was walking in the middle of the road because the nearby sidewalks were covered in snow and ice.
In a Facebook post the police department said they were concerned for the young man’s welfare, and also feared the possibility he was having a mental health crisis, or was delusional/impaired.
Reese reportedly told cops he was fine. As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, body cam video of the incident shows the police follow him for several minutes while trying to speak to him.
“Dude, stop we are trying to help you,” says an officer.
“I’m trying to get home,” Reese responds.
An officer says, “All right, but you’re walking in the middle of the road.”
“I understand that. My bad,” Reese responds.
“Are you cold?” an officer asks him.
“No. I’m not,” he says.
An officer then asks, “Do you want us to give you a ride?”
To that Reese responds, “No. I do this every night.”
The video reportedly shows Reese walking away until an officer tells him he’s being detained. In a report on the events the arresting officer says Reese committed a Class B misdemeanor for interference with public duties by resisting officers’ efforts to handcuff and detain him. Officers decided to only try and get a charge for the Class C misdemeanor of pedestrian in the roadway. The police chief backed up the officers for the part where they checked on him, but added “They should’ve taken him home, is where he should’ve gone.”