A traffic stop in Rochester that drew a crowd of bystanders decrying the police response was a result of an alleged incident in Wabasha County, according to law enforcement.
The Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office received a call for service about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday for a report of threats being made with a firearm and an assault at Macs Park Place, a campground in the county, according to Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jim Warren.
By the time deputies arrived, two vehicles believed to be involved in the incident had left. A notice to be on the lookout went out to neighboring counties.
The Rochester Police Department and the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office located the vehicles in Rochester, according to Warren.
Rochester police became involved about 7:50 p.m. after a vehicle matching the description of one of the suspect vehicles was spotted by officers on North Broadway Avenue.
The vehicle was stopped in a parking lot in the area of 16th Street and North Broadway Avenue and police conducted a “high risk traffic stop,” according to Rochester Police Capt. Casey Moilanen. A high risk stop involves officers having their guns drawn and pointing them either at a vehicle or the ground, according to Moilanen.
In a statement released by the Rochester police Thursday afternoon, police stated that high-risk traffic stops are used to ensure the safety of the occupants, the officers involved in the stop, and the people in the area where the stop occurs.
"High-risk stops are a common tactic utilized by law enforcement to safely detain the individuals involved," the statement reads. "Officers are needed to watch both sides of the vehicle, and additional officers are needed to make contact with the occupants to safely detain them away from the vehicle. There are many areas within a vehicle that officers cannot see during a traffic stop, having additional officers on scene allows additional views of the vehicle. Being able to have a better view of the vehicle increases the safety of everyone and decreases the chances that mistakes will be made. As part of this standard procedure, some officers have no weapons, some have less lethal, some have handguns, and some have rifles. This is done for the safety of the officers, occupants and bystanders."
Rochester police received reports from Wabasha County that a gun was used in the alleged incident. An Airsoft gun believed to have been used in the incident was later found by members of the Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office on U.S. 63.
Four people in the vehicle were taken to the Law Enforcement Center. One person was ultimately arrested by the Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office. Three were released from custody.
Yasin Nasir Muhidin, 24, is charged in Wabasha County District Court with felony second-degree assault, felony terroristic threats-replica firearm and felony fifth-degree assault. Court documents say that Muhidin punched a man at the campground in Wabasha County after being asked if he had paid to fish there. Muhidin reportedly brandished what was believed to be a semi-automatic gun. Judge Christopher Neisen set conditional bail at $2,000 and unconditional bail at $15,000.
Multiple videos of the traffic stop were posted to social media sites. Bystanders could be heard in the videos questioning the police response, yelling, “You’re scaring girls.” “Don’t shoot.” “Why do you need guns?” and urging those exiting the vehicle to “stay calm.”
"While these are facts related to this case, we recognize and respect the concern in the community stemming from video taken during this interaction.," the statement from the Rochester Police Department read. "We want to state that we are committed to developing solutions with the community. This includes developing solutions that fit who we are, as a community, and what law enforcement should do, including what it means to protect and serve."
The Rochester Police Department's use of force/response to resistance policy states that the display of firearms in order to gain compliance is recognized as a non-deadly force option.
“In accordance with training, officers may display their firearm to gain compliance during instances where the officer reasonably believes use of force is justified and that it may be necessary to lawfully use the weapon in conformance with other sections of this policy,” the policy states.