Arrest video: ‘They seemed to be deliberately provoking the drunk woman’

An arrest near Saloon in Minneapolis escalated quickly after a bystander pulled out her phone.

An arrest near Saloon in Minneapolis escalated quickly after a bystander pulled out her phone.

Theresa Dunnavant and her partner are both smokers. They see their share of drunk people wandering past their Hennepin Avenue apartment near 9th Street.

Around 10 p.m. on Monday night, a young woman walked past “yelling at people” and acting generally drunk and rowdy. They weren’t alarmed.

The alarming part happened next, when the woman walked up to the entrance to Saloon and got into an altercation with the bouncer. Dunnavant says the woman spat on him, “which is not cool.” But the bouncer responded by kicking her and putting her in a choke hold.

Dunnavant says a nearby taxi driver was keeping an eye on the situation. He either called or flagged down Minneapolis police. She and her partner were initially relieved to see cops on the scene. Then the situation only deteriorated from bad to worse.

She says two officers approached the young woman and told her to “calm down” and “stay still.” When she remained uncooperative, one cop screamed in her face to “shut up right now.”

Dunnavant got out her cellphone and started recording.

The video shows the officers tussling with the woman while she yells “do not grab me” and “back up.” She drops her purse while they wrestle her to the ground.

“I did not do anything wrong,” she says.

“Put your hands behind your back.”

“I’m trying to wipe my nose. Can I wipe my nose? Can I wipe my fucking nose?”

They cuff her and haul her to her feet, struggling with her as she tries to go for her fallen purse, saying she’s bleeding from her face, that she can taste the blood in her mouth. Eventually, they push her into the squad car.

Dunnavant, a few yards away, tells an officer that they’re escalating the situation, and tries to get them to talk to people who witnessed the young woman’s fight with the bouncer. For the most part, they ignore her, until one of them reaches out and tells her to move back a bit.

For the rest of the video, Dunnavant and the cab driver confer on what they’ve seen -- that the bouncer had beaten the young woman up, that the police had been unnecessarily rough with her and hadn’t been interested in taking their statements.

“She was walking away,” the taxi driver says.

“No one should get the crap beat out of them because they’re drunk in Minneapolis,” Dunnavant says. “This is not okay.”

The Minneapolis Police Department wouldn’t comment on any allegations against the officers. The police narrative says the young woman “was uncooperative during an investigation, where she got physically combative and began fighting with officers,” and that she’d been arrested for Obstruction with Force. She was bleeding, the report says, but paramedics were “unable to properly assess her on the scene” before she was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center.

The department says officers were wearing body cameras at the time, and that the footage “could be helpful” in sorting through what happened. They wouldn’t comment on Dunnavant’s video.

Dunnavant says she’s still a little shaken up.

“They [the officers] seemed to be deliberately provoking the drunk woman,” she says. Her partner had been nervous while she was recording the incident, but she wanted the officers to know that someone was watching them.