The following press release was issued by the Richfield Police Department.
Richfield, Minnesota, July 11, 2020 - The Bloomington, Edina and Richfield Police Departments extend their apologies to Mr. Darrius Strong who was detained Friday, July 10, after an unfortunate case of mistaken identity.
Officers from the three departments were working traffic enforcement as part of Minnesota’s Toward Zero Deaths program. At approximately 1 p.m., a Richfield police officer on the detail working in Bloomington noted a vehicle was speeding. Prior to stopping Mr. Strong for the speeding offense, the officer ran the license plate of the vehicle and noted the registered owner had a suspended Minnesota driver’s license and felony-level warrant for his arrest. The traffic stop occurred on Old Shakopee Road near Logan Avenue.
The Richfield police officer approached the driver, Mr. Darrius Strong, and momentarily drew her firearm, but held it near her thigh and pointed at the ground. The handgun was never pointed at Mr. Strong. No other officers had their handguns drawn. Due to the high-risk nature of arresting individuals with felony-level warrants, officers often have their handguns drawn during these encounters. The officer quickly determined that Mr. Strong was compliant, so she immediately holstered her handgun. Mr. Strong was escorted out of his vehicle, secured into handcuffs, and placed into the rear seat of the Richfield police officer’s squad car.
Mr. Strong was compliant throughout the incident and maintained there was no such warrant for his arrest. The Richfield police officer ran additional checks on the driver and closely examined the arrest warrant. She discovered a different person falsely used Mr. Strong’s name during a previous police encounter that resulted in an arrest warrant being issued in his name. Mr. Strong was released at the scene and no enforcement action was taken. Officers advised him of the identity issue and provided guidance on how to resolve the discrepancy with the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension (BCA).
This was no doubt a stressful and emotional experience for Mr. Strong. While they were doing their jobs based on what they knew at the time of the traffic stop, officers regret the stress Mr. Strong felt. The three cities will work with the BCA to make sure Mr. Strong’s record is cleared and will continue to have important conversations in our communities regarding police-citizen encounters and how they need to reflect the best of all involved.
To promote transparency, the Richfield Police Department anticipates releasing the squad car dash camera footage on Monday.
Update, July 13, 2020 - Edina’s squad cam footage can be viewed online at https://youtu.be/VVLpkyZLQr4.