Sioux Falls police review teen arrest over excessive force

SIOUX FALLS (AP) – Sioux Falls police won't release video footage from police cameras while they review the arrest of a juvenile that was caught on a social media video over the weekend and criticized for excessive use of force, the police chief said.

Videos of the arrest on Saturday shortly after 3 a.m. were taken by a bystander and posted on social media, drawing accusations that officers had used excessive force while they responded to a call for an alleged assault in downtown Sioux Falls.

The videos on social media show officers threatening to shoot someone in a car who did not obey their commands to stop the car. Police then broke the car's window with a baton, dragged the driver from the vehicle and forced her to the ground. The officer proceeded to place his knee on the driver's neck while she lied on her stomach on the ground. The driver was later identified as 17-year-old Janaisa Williams.

Officers also dragged TyJon Hardiman, 19, out of the backseat of the car.

“I was very scared when they threw me to the ground. I didn’t know what to do. I had my hands behind my back. I thought I was going to get killed. They were already threatening to shoot us for no reason. I did not know what happened,” Hardiman told KELO-TV.

Hardiman, who's Black, said the encounter with police comes at a “perfect" time to help “prove something is obviously wrong with the law enforcement."

“That (video) is only a small piece of the interaction,” Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said during a police briefing with news media Monday morning. “I think that’s a key to understand.”

He said the department is reviewing what happened to determine if officers used excessive force. But police will not release video from body cameras, dashboard cameras or security videos, he said. Public records law in South Dakota does not require video footage from police cameras to be released.

Burns said before the police made the arrest, an officer tried to stop the vehicle, which was stuck in traffic, by reaching through the driver's window and turning off the keys. But the driver fled, rolling up the window and dragging the police officer for a short distance.

Police later caught up with the vehicle in a parking garage where a bystander captured the arrest on video.

Officers arrested one person inside the vehicle in connection to the assault call to which they were responding. Lovetee Teah, 21, of Sioux Falls, was charged with simple assault, Burns said.

The police department is expected to release the results of the review in the coming days.

Burns has said he his department would not make policy changes in response to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police offer pressed his knee to Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes.


More In State News