PLANO, Texas - Rodney Reese spent a night in jail after he was arrested for being in the street while walking home from work in icy conditions during last week's winter weather.
Plano’s police chief said he’s dropping the charge against Reese because it doesn’t fit what officers were called to investigate.
The 18-year-old was stopped by Plano PD officers while walking home from work at WalMart during the winter weather on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Police said someone called, concerned, that a Black male wearing a short-sleeve shirt was stumbling along the icy conditions. It was dispatched to officers as a welfare check.
Reese lives with his mom just a few blocks away, right down the street from where he works.
He repeatedly told officers he was fine.
"I’m on the way home. I’m straight," Reese said in the body cam footage release by police.
"Alright, but you’re walking in the middle of the road," an officer said.
"I understand that. My bad," Reese replied.
But officers continued to follow him for two minutes and 17 seconds, before handcuffs were placed around his wrists.
Reese was arrested for walking in the street. The official charge was pedestrian in the roadway.
The high school student spent the night in jail.
"They just treated me like I was a criminal or something," Reese said in an interview with FOX 4.
He said he was walking along the street because the area off to the side of it was covered in ice and snow.
Reese said he kept walking away because he didn’t need help.
"Just a simple encounter. A simple encounter. That’s why I tried to dodge it, so I could make it home, I don’t know," he explained.
Friends and loved ones said he’s just a good kid, with a clean record, who was scared.
"I know the kid’s character. I know the kid’s demeanor," Ozell Graham said.
Plano Police Chief Ed Drain backs his officers for checking on Reese.
"There’s a lot of information that we know about this case that we didn’t know at the time. Those officers didn’t know his age. They didn’t know he was 18. They didn’t know he worked at WalMart. They didn’t know where he lived," Drain said.
Still, he said the arrest wasn’t consistent with the reason officers went out there, which was for a welfare check.
So he’s dropping the charge against Reese.
"They should’ve taken him home, is where he should’ve gone," Drain added.
The police department will determine whether an internal investigation is warranted.
Chief Drain doesn’t believe race was a factor in the arrest.
"But I can’t get inside people’s hearts, I can’t get inside people’s heads," he added.
As for Reese, he believes his race was the only reason he was arrested.
"Just ‘cause I’m Black, that’s it. It’s ‘cause I’m Black, I fit a description. It hurts, man," he said. "I don’t even think the call would’ve happened [if I wasn't Black]. Honestly, I really don’t."
Plano police said Reese resisted the arrest, but didn’t file that charge.