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Plano Police Arrest Black High School Student for Walking in the Road, Showing How Far We Have To Go for Racial Equity



PLANO, TX – The incident began shortly after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, when a concerned resident called 911. The caller claimed that they saw a Black man stumbling down Hedgecoxe Road. He appeared to be wearing only a short-sleeved t-shirt and shorts–though they were actually pants–and ice and snow covered the road. They wanted police to do a welfare check on him.

In a Feb. 19 Facebook post, Plano police wrote that they were “concerned for his welfare and the possibility of the subject being in a mental crisis, delusional, or impaired.”

But 18-year-old Ronald Reese was simply on his way home from a shift at Walmart. According to his father’s Facebook post, Reese’s mother takes him to work after school, and he works fulltime. He walks home, so he doesn’t disturb his mother’s sleep. He wore a t-shirt instead of a jacket because his father says his son is hot natured.

On initial contact, officers tried speaking to Reese. He told him that he was fine and didn’t need any help. He continued walking away from officers. “Officers repeatedly told him they were there to help him,” Plano police claimed. And yet, they never offered to give him a ride home.

They did, however, continue to follow him for quite a distance before one of the officers keyed up the PA system and told him that they needed to speak with him because they could offer him help.

Reese continued walking away without acknowledging officers, Plano police wrote on Facebook. After all, it was reaching the single digits in temperature, and Reese’s work wasn’t far from his home.

Officers exited their patrol vehicles to speak with him again. They asked where he was going. “I’m walking home,” Reese replied. “I’m straight.”

But officers didn’t agree. After all, he was walking without a coat in historic freezing temperatures, though it wasn’t a crime to do so.

Reese continued trying to walk home and told officers where he was going. Then an officer stepped in front of him, blocking his path. After the 7-minute interaction, the officers arrested Reese for walking in the middle of the road.

According to police, Reese resisted arrest. The arresting officer, however, did not to charge him with it. Instead, Reese spent the night in Plano jail on a Class C misdemeanor of a pedestrian impeding traffic, though there was no traffic due to icy weather conditions.

“They just treated me like I was a criminal or something,” Reese told Fox 4 news in a Feb. 21 article. According to his family, the high school student has a clean record.

On Monday, Reese claimed that he didn’t stop because he doesn’t trust police, according to an NBC 5 report. “That’s why young Black men like me, we’re scared of the police… They kill and arrest us.”

Not-so Simple

Reese told Fox 4 news that he walked in the middle of the road because of ice and snow on the sidewalks. “Just a simple encounter, a simple encounter,” he said. “That’s why I tried to dodge it, so I could make it home.”

But it wasn’t a simple encounter. It was just one of dozens of examples over the years when police take excessive, unwarranted action against Black men.

Several social media commenters made the same point when Fox 4 news shared the story on Facebook.

“I was pulled over for walking in the middle of the road when I was about 17,” wrote a commenter of lighter complexion. “The officer asked for my license and where I was headed and I told her what she wanted to know. I was there for maybe 5 minutes and then I was sent on my way. No big deal.”

“Breaks my mama heart in a million pieces,” another wrote. “The child was walking home from work in below freezing temperatures and instead of ensuring he made it home safely, he was ARRESTED and put in jail. When does it stop? Why? Where is the compassion? Who does this?”

Video evidence

Three days later, on Friday, Plano police posted a narrative and the dash cam video of Reese’s arrest. Police highlighted that Reese had initially resisted arrest, but officers decided not to charge him. They simply charged him as a Pedestrian in the Roadway, a Class C misdemeanor, but failed to mention that Reese is only 18 and a high school student.

The condemnation was swift.

“After reading and watching the video, I want to voice my direct disappointment in the words used on this post. Specifically, words like ‘mental crisis’, ‘delusional’, or ‘impaired,’” one commenter wrote. “In my opinion, this individual does not showcase such behaviors. It gives us (the general public) a negative annotation and makes us perceive individuals differently. It’s my hope that next time Plano PD considers choosing words appropriately.”

“I’m really disappointed in the department’s response to this incident,” another said. “The correct response would be ‘We reviewed the video and recognized that this interaction could’ve been handled better by our officers. PPD is committed to providing further diversity training to help our officers better understand and respond to very valid distrust from the African American community when it comes to interactions with the police. All charges have been dropped and the officers involved have been disciplined.’

“He has the right to decline help, he answered their questions appropriately and showed no sign of mental illness yet continued to be harassed by your officers until detained after an ‘investigation’ suddenly popped up. The fact that Plano police is defending these officers’ conduct should be a concern for everyone in the community. Absolute abuse of power here. Are you going to arrest all the middle age white women who jog in the streets every morning? Indefensible.”