A TikTok video of Michigan police arresting a Black 12-year-old boy and putting him in handcuffs has set people off.
Officials have responded to the incident, calling it an “unfortunate misunderstanding” that stemmed from a foot chase of a suspect wanted in a suspected vehicle theft.
The video has made its rounds on social media and in the news, causing the Mayor of Lansing Andy Schor and local police to make a statement on the incident.
The video appears to show a young, Black male wearing neon yellow shorts and a white T-shirt being detained by a police officer outside an apartment complex. A man can be heard telling officers that they are traumatizing his son, but still he was put into the police vehicle then eventually released to the man who said he was his father, USA Today reported.
The 4 minute TikTok video has generated millions of views and posts across social media with users saying the boy was detained as he was throwing away garbage.
“Kid taking out trash being harassed by police. Father defending his son. Wrong person,” the TikTok poster captioned on Thursday.
Lawyers for the family of Tashawn Bernard asked that police take down its Facebook post, saying the photo makes it appear as though the shirt Tashawn was wearing was white, when it actually was gray, the outlet reported.
The suspect police were looking for was wearing a white shirt, they added.
“It does not accurately reflect what Tashawn was wearing,” said Ayanna Neal of Grewal Law. “They need to take down the post.”
A statement was made by Lansing Police Chief Ellery Sosebee on Friday.
“On Thursday afternoon, our officers were investigating a string of Kia thefts, including a specific one reported on the 3600 block of W. Jolly Road with multiple suspects,” the first post on Facebook said. “A witness described a suspect as wearing neon shorts and a white shirt. A responding officer saw a subject matching this description and attempted to make contact but the subject fled and ran west in to the nearby apartment complex.
“A different officer was in the area and saw the young man pictured in the viral video wearing a very similar outfit and made contact with him. The initial officer was able to respond and clarify the young man in the video was not the suspect who fled earlier. Once this information was obtained, the young man was released and officers continued to search the area.
“We are including pictures of both individuals. We have blurred both photos to protect the identities of the subjects.”
A photo of the people involved was posted, but blurred out, along with the statement.
Social media users are also outraged in the amount of police involved in the matter.
“This city is paying 6 police officers to arrest a child for throwing out garbage,” another added.
“I hope someone gets ahold of the young man detained today while taking out the trash because he ‘fit the description’ and lift him up. He will need support around him,” a user posted.
LPD said they hope to put the situation behind them.
“Community relations is a top priority for us as a department, from top-down,” the department wrote. “Our hope is we can put this unfortunate case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ behind us and continue to represent the community that we serve.”
After 4 p.m., the department released a statement attributed to Sosebee.
“The officers of the Lansing Police Department are working very hard to address the recent car thefts plaguing our city. In doing so, yesterday officers detained a young man who was wearing similar clothing and in the same apartment complex as an accused car thief who fled from officers on foot. When the officer made initial contact, it was near a trash bin but was after he had disposed of any garbage. The young man was then released to his father when eliminated as the accused. The command officer on the scene made contact with the young man’s father and explained the situation and apologized for the misunderstanding. I have reviewed the incident and can confirm the officer who contacted and detained the young man was respectful and professional during his investigation.”
“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,” the statement read.
“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. The relationship with our community has been and will continue to be a top priority for the Lansing Police Department.”