The Plano Police Department is investigating its own officers’ handling of an encounter with a Black teenager, detained after walking in the road during Tuesday’s winter storm.
High school senior Rodney Reese said it was a walk home from work that will stay with him forever. It has also led to an internal investigation in the police department, according to the Collin County Chapter of the NAACP.
“I’m working at Walmart, serving the community, and they just come and harass me,” Reese said Monday. “I didn’t need their service. I just wanted to go home.”
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At least one officer’s camera captured the seven-minute encounter. It is unclear if other officers had their cameras on.
“Hey man,” the unidentified Plano police officer says to Reese in an interaction captured on body camera. “You trying to get home?”
The video was posted on the police department's Facebook page after several inquiries.
Temperatures were in the teens that night at around 10:45 p.m.
Someone called police for a "welfare check."’ describing a black man wearing a T-shirt, stumbling and walking on Hedgcoxe Road in North Plano, police said.
Offices arrived and saw Reese walking down the road.
A male officer in his squad car is heard saying, "Dude, stop. We’re just trying to help you.’"
The squad car then stops, and officers walk toward Reese. A female officer then tries to ask Reese if he needs a ride home.
“Nah, I’m straight,” Reese is heard responding.
But police continue to repeatedly ask him if he needs a ride home and if he is OK.
Reese is told he was walking in the roadway, to which he responds, "My bad."
He later told officers he was walking on the road because of the icy conditions.
“Sir, you need to talk to us,” one officer says.
“I’m good, bruh,” he yells back.
“Can you calm down,” she responds.
Police continue to push for answers in the seven-minute encounter, asking Reese where he is going and for his name.
“We’re just trying to figure out where you’re going,” she says.
“Home! I just said that,” he responds.
Things escalate in an alleyway. Reese is heard saying he has an anger problem and for police not to touch him.
“We’re doing an investigation,” a male officer says.
“I don’t care! I’m going home,” Reese says.
“You are officially detained,” the officers say.
“No,” Reese exclaims.
Police are seen on camera trying to detain the teenager, alleging he pushed an officer.
Reese spent the night in jail.
Reese said 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 sad. "I wanted to go home.”
His only charge, for walking on the roadway, was later dropped at the direction of the police chief.
Reese’s parents said they were upset and want to ensure his record is wiped clean.
The Collin County chapter of the NAACP said it were deeply disturbed by the body camera video.
“Action needs to be taken to ensure it does not happen again,” the chapter’s president June Jenkins said. “The actions of each of the officers, I think they need to be held accountable.”
Jenkins said she met with Plano Police Chief Ed Drain and demanded an internal investigation.
“Situations as simple as the one that occurred here, result in Black men being killed,” Jenkins said. “We’re fortunate that this young man had an opportunity to go home alive.”
Jenkins also wants to know the outcome of other encounters with people who have been stopped for walking in the roadway.
She said there should be zero tolerance for incidents like this and wants policies to be reviewed.
“What has occurred has probably devastated an 18-year-old young man,” Jenkins said.
The local leader pushed back on any criticism of how Reese handled himself during the encounter.
“His actions demonstrate that he was trying to be respectful of them,” she said. “He was probably cold. It was cold out that night and I don’t know if there was some form of agitations, perhaps he did not respond in the manner that they desired.”
Reese’s mother, Rachel Brown, spoke during the Monday press conference but was visibly shaken by the experience.
“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.”
Reese has no criminal history, he and his mother said.
“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 was a five-minute walk from the store to his house, she said.
“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.”
Reese said he would not do anything differently if he could do it all over again.
“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.”
“We respect and trust our police officers and at the same time expect the highest level of professionalism,” Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said in a statement. "This incident highlights an opportunity for us and the entire community to realize we all can do better in strengthening the relationship between police and the African-American community. We are committed to understanding what we could have done better and how we can move forward in a constructive manner. Communication and dialogue is important and we look forward to better outcomes in the future."
NBC 5 requested to speak to Chief Drain. The chief was working on a statement, but one has not yet been released.