Police apologize after Black teen cuffed in “wrong place, wrong time” case
Police in Lansing, Michigan have issued an apology after a Black teen was put in handcuffs by a White police officer in an “unfortunate case of ‘wrong place, wrong time.'”
The police department made several statements on Friday after videos circulating on social media showed the incident. The Lansing Police Department said first that it was an “unfortunate understanding.”
Officers were investigating a string of Kia car thefts, the department said, including a “specific” theft reported on West Jolly Road. A witness to the theft, which had multiple suspects, described one suspect as wearing neon shorts and a white shirt. A responding officer saw someone matching the description in a similar outfit and attempted to make contact, but the person fled. A second officer saw the mistakenly-cuffed boy and “made contact with him,” the Lansing Police Department said.
Cellphone video reviewed by CBS Detroit showed an officer leading the boy, who was later identified as 12-year-old Tashawn Bernard, through a parking lot, with his hands cuffed behind his back. A voice can be heard saying that the “kid” was “bringing out his trash to the Dumpster.” The department did not say why the boy was handcuffed.
A lawyer representing the family told the Associated Press that the officer “had his “gun unholstered and was holding it in front of him.”
The video then shows a man who identified the boy as his son, then approached the officer. The officer walked Tashawn toward his father, later identified as Michael Bernard, before another officer brought the child to a patrol vehicle and put him in the rear seat, according to CBS Detroit. The video shows Bernard appear to be in distress and speaking with an officer while pacing.
“They traumatized my son,” Bernard could be heard saying to the person recording, according to CBS Detroit.
After about three minutes, the handcuffs were removed, and Tashawn was able to join his father after speaking briefly with an officer.
The department said that the “initial officer was able to respond and clarify the young man in the video was not the suspect who fled earlier.”
According to a second statement issued on Facebook a few hours later and credited to Chief Ellery Sosobee, the young man was “released to his father when eliminated as the accused.”
“I have reviewed the incident and can confirm the officer who contacted and detained the young man was respectful and professional during his investigation,” said Sosobee. “It’s unfortunate that incidents like this occur but through communication and sharing of information, we can help people understand the whole story. We understand that something like this has an impact on all parties involved. As the Chief of Police, I want to apologize that this incident had such an effect on this young man and his family. I’m asking for the community to consider all the facts of the situation before making a judgment.”
Police have released blurred photos showing the suspects.
This article originally appeared on www.aol.com