PLANO, Texas — The Plano Police Department has launched an administrative inquiry into their policies and procedures to see if they need to make changes following the arrest of 18-year-old RJ Reese.
On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Plano police arrested Reese, who is Black, on a charge of a pedestrian in the roadway. They’ve since dropped that charge.
According to officials, someone called police to report a Black man walking and stumbling in the roadway, wearing a t-shirt.
Reese, who was walking home after working the late shift at Walmart, ended up being arrested.
Police said they were just checking on his welfare, but after he refused to stop and answer questions the confrontation escalated and it ultimately ended with Reese in custody.
“I didn’t want to answer a question. I wanted to go home,” Reese said. “We react the way we react to them because we don’t feel protected by them at all. People sworn to protect. We don’t feel protected by them at all.”
James Hawthorne is a former assistant chief with the Arlington Police Department, who also trained officers in de-escalation.
“That’s obviously not the outcome that any of us would want. From a police administrative perspective, from a public perspective, that’s just not the outcome that any of us would desire and want,” Hawthorne said. “It is a simple welfare check and that’s where it should stay.”
Hawthorne said officers need to determine whether a person is "up to no good" or someone doesn't need or want police assistance.
“And if that’s the case, we let them go,” Hawthorne said. “Early on in my police career when the police is called you feel this need to do something, you want to do something, you want to respond to the call, and sometimes doing something is to do nothing at all.”
He said he has a lot of confidence that Chief Ed Drain in Plano will make the appropriate changes to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said city officials trust and respect their police force, but also expect the highest level of professionalism.
“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," said LaRosiliere. "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.”
Ultimately, Hawthorne said it's about improving police practices.
“I do have some optimism that we will continue to learn through these experiences and as a profession, as a law enforcement profession, we’ll get better,” Hawthorne said. “We have to get better, we have to do better, and we will.”
The interaction between Reese, Plano police
In body camera video footage accompanying a Feb. 19 Facebook post from the Plano Police Department, two police officers offer to help Reese.
"Dude, stop, we're trying to help you," one of the officers says at the beginning of the video released by police.
The video shows the officers get out of the squad car and try to speak with Reese.
"Hey man, you trying to get home?" one officer asks.
"Nah, I'm straight," Reese replies.
The officers follow Reese in the video.
At one point the officer tells him he's walking in the middle of the road.
"My bad, I understand that," Reese says.
The officers repeatedly ask Reese if he needs a ride. He refuses. He tells them he's walking home.
"I do this every night, literally. I'm straight," he says. The police ask him his name. He doesn't say.
One of the officers, who is a woman, appears to move toward Reese in the video to talk to him after he stops walking.
"I ain't going to put my hand on a female, please don't touch me," Reese says.
Another officer tells Reese that they are doing an investigation and that the teen is "officially detained."
"No," Reese says.
"Yes, yes you are," the officer says.
One officer can be heard saying Reese is resisting arrest, although Reese, on camera, denies pushing against the officer handcuffing him.
"Put your hands behind your back. You are not free to go," one officer says.
"The next thing you do is you're going to get a charge."
"For what?" Reese asks.
"Because you're pushing on an officer," the officer handcuffing Reese says.
"My house is literally right there," Reese says as police handcuff him. The police ask him for his address and he doesn't say.
"Please just let me go," Reese says.
"You are really making this worse right now," one of the officers says.
The next few minutes consist of the police walking Reese to the squad car as Reese tells the police to let him go. He again refuses to tell the police his first name.
"We were honestly just trying to check on you," one of the officers says.
"That's cool, I said I'm good," Reese said.
Police ask him again where he lives and he doesn't say.
"The only reason I was walking in the street was that the snow was too deep on the sidewalk," Reese can be heard saying on the way to the car.
"Why didn't you just say that?" one officer says.
"Now look at where we are. Caused a whole lot of something out of nothing," another officer says.
They put Reese in the backseat and the video ends.