by CHRIS ROGERS
The Goodview Police Department (GPD) referred two boys, ages 12 and 15, for charges of obstructing justice and disorderly conduct — offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct — following an incident at LaCanne Park on Monday evening.
GPD Officer Samuel Perrella responded to a 9-1-1 call from an individual in LaCanne Park reporting that there was a “group of kids fighting. Group is getting into the [reporting party’s] face, swearing. Ten teenage males, per caller,” according to a police report. In a written statement released on Tuesday afternoon, GPD officials wrote that they “responded to a complaint made from a person at LaCanne Park who stated that there was a group of approximately 10 juveniles fighting and harassing other persons trying to enjoy the public beach. The reporting party also advised that they had been verbally threatened by one of the males of the group.”
A video of GPD’s response posted on Facebook shows Officer Perrella approaching the two boys, the boys resisting arrest and talking back to the officer, and the 15-year-old boy trying to get in between his 12-year-old brother and Perrella. It shows the officer throwing the 12-year-old boy to the ground, kneeling on the boy’s back, gaining control of the boy’s hands, and handcuffing him. Videos show the officer handcuffing both boys, who were later released. The videos were widely shared on Facebook and sparked debate.
The GPD’s statement explained, “Upon arrival, the officer made contact with two of the male suspects that resulted in temporary detention of both of them. It was determined that both individuals were juveniles and were subsequently released from custody to their mother with charges pending.” In an interview, the 12-year-old boy said that when Winona Police officers arrived on the scene, they already had his information and informed Perrella of his age.
“At this time, the Goodview City Police Department will be conducting an investigation of the incident to ensure that the situation was properly addressed by the responding officer,” GPD officials wrote in their statement. Goodview Police Chief Kent Russell said he is currently reviewing the case, and he declined to comment on some questions because of that ongoing investigation, including questions about the decision to handcuff the boys.
Both boys have been referred to the Winona County Attorney’s Office for charges, according to Russell.
Why didn’t the officer ask for the parents or the adults the boys were there with? the boys’ mother, Shawana Williams, asked in an interview. She explained the boys were at the park with a friend’s grandmother for a barbecue; Williams was called to pick them up after the incident. Williams claimed that, contrary to the GPD statement, the boys were released to that friend’s grandmother, not herself. Williams wanted to know, “Out of 10 kids, how do you only grab these two?”
Russell said that, because of the investigation, he could not comment on that question. However, he added, “That’ll come out.”
Williams also claimed that the GPD never informed her of the threats her boys allegedly made. “The only thing everyone kept saying was that kids were cussing,” she said. Asked whether his agency informed Williams of the alleged threats, Russell declined to comment beyond his department’s statement that the boys were released to their mother with charges pending.
Asked if he should have resisted arrest and talked back to the officer, the 15-year-old boy responded, “No, but at the same time, I’m not going to get in handcuffs for something I didn’t do.”
In their statement, GPD leaders wrote, “The Goodview Police Department takes pride in providing the highest quality service to its citizens and community. The department is committed to maintaining public safety and addressing concerns of all community residents and visitors.”
Videos of the incident may be found at tinyurl.com/y7yb8n5c.