Fact check: Man detained in Rochester, Minnesota is not an FBI agent

Correction June 2, 2020: The verdict of this check has been updated to remove the term “wrongfully”. The man the video was briefly detained by police in a case of mistaken identity.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

A video going viral on social media amid widespread racial inequality protests in the U.S. carries a caption in many posts that claims it shows a black man who is actually an FBI agent being arrested. The video dates from 2019 and the man in the video is not an FBI agent.

Examples of the social media posts can be seen here and here . The posts feature a video of a black man wearing a red t-shirt getting handcuffed by two white police officers. The man questions the actions of the police throughout (here). A second clip appears to show the moments leading up to the handcuffing, with the same man saying again, “you’re assuming I’m someone I’m not” and claiming the officers are racially profiling him in a case of mistaken identity. In neither video are there audible conclusions or details revealed about the man’s profession. The officers look at the man’s ID inside his wallet during the video.

Various posts on social media concluded the man was secretly an FBI agent. However, the Rochester (MN) Police Department confirmed to Reuters via email that, “Contrary to social media rumors, the individual was not a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent.” The department said: “During the brief detention, identification was located showing he was not the individual the officers knew had a warrant.  The individual was immediately released.“ Rochester Police also confirmed that the incident took place on June 1, 2019. A press release from the RPD on the exchange is visible here .

An Instagram user claiming to be the source of the video said that he chose to share the video at this time because the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis had stoked racial tensions around the country. Instagram user @thisisnike1 wrote in a post accompanying the video: “‪Somethin’ been telling me to hold on to this video over a year now, ok.” (here)‬‬‬

The user @thisisnike1, confirmed in an Instagram comment that the claim the man was an undercover FBI agent was a rumor that started on Twitter. Another social media user identified the man in the video as his friend and “not an FBI agent” (here).


Partly false. The video does show a man briefly detained in a case of mistaken identity but the man in the video is not an FBI agent.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .