LANSING, Michigan (AP) — A white police officer handcuffed a black child outside his Michigan home, “in an “unfortunate instance of ‘wrong place, wrong time,'” Lansing police said Friday.
The department released the statement on Facebook after a cellphone video circulated on social media showing the officer leading the boy – whose hands are tied behind his back – across the parking lot of an apartment complex on Thursday. The officer was looking for a suspect in a string of car thefts when he spotted the child.
At a press conference held by his family and their lawyers on Friday, the boy was identified as 12-year-old Tashawn Bernard. Tashawn was taking trash to the dumpster when he was approached by an officer who “had his gun out of his holster and holding it in front of him,” according to a lawyer representing the family.
About three minutes after videotaping of the incident began, an officer removed the handcuffs and spoke to Tashawn for about 30 seconds. Tashawn was then allowed to join his father on the sidewalk.
Michael Bernard, Tashawn’s father, said he sensed something was wrong when his son was taking longer than usual to take out the trash. When he went outside, he said his son was “handcuffed and cops were standing around him.”
Bernard family attorneys, Ayanna and Rico Neal, said Tashawn was so “traumatized” that he “doesn’t want to go outside anymore.”
Officials wanted to “provide some background on this unfortunate misunderstanding,” police said on Friday.
A witness had described the suspect’s clothing before a person matching the description ran into an apartment complex from an officer, police said. Another officer saw the child in “a very similar outfit,” stopped her, and released her when the officer realized she wasn’t the suspect, police said.
Lawyers for the Bernard family say they have not received any further details from police other than those shared on social media. The family is “assessing all legal options,” including “the possibility of filing a lawsuit,” attorneys said.
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, The police have launched an internal investigation After another video posted on social media appears to show one of their officers beating a black man on July 20, whom the officer mistakenly believed was involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Police said witnesses told them two men and a woman with a child fled towards an Applebee restaurant. A restaurant worker directed officers to a man holding a baby. The police then discovered the people responsible for the accident hiding in the restaurant’s bathroom.