The police department of Lansing, Michigan, has apologized after a white police officer handcuffed a Black child outside his home in what the agency called an “unfortunate case of ‘wrong place, wrong time'”. The incident occurred when the officer mistook the child for a suspect in a string of car thefts. The boy’s family and their lawyers have expressed that the incident has traumatized him. The police chief has apologized for the impact on the young man and his family. The family is considering legal options, including the possibility of filing a lawsuit. Guardian staff reporter reported
The Lansing, Michigan police department has issued an apology after a white police officer mistakenly handcuffed a Black child outside his home, referring to it as an “unfortunate case of ‘wrong place, wrong time'”. The apology was posted on Facebook following the circulation of a cellphone video on social media that showed the officer leading the boy, with his hands cuffed behind his back, through a parking lot. The officer had been searching for a suspect involved in a series of car thefts when he came across the child.
During a news conference held by the family and their lawyers, the boy was identified as 12-year-old Tashawn Bernard. According to one of the family’s lawyers, Tashawn was taking out the trash when an officer approached him with his gun unholstered and in front of him. Roughly three minutes into the video, the officer removed the handcuffs and briefly spoke with Tashawn before allowing him to join his father on the sidewalk. Tashawn’s father, Michael Bernard, became concerned when his son took longer than usual to bring out the trash and discovered him with handcuffs on, surrounded by police officers.
The Bernard family’s legal representatives, Ayanna and Rico Neal, stated that Tashawn has been deeply traumatized by the incident and no longer wants to go outside. The police department released two statements on Facebook, one of which aimed to provide some background information on the misunderstanding. According to the police, a witness had described the suspect’s appearance before someone matching the description ran into an apartment complex, leading another officer to stop the child, who was wearing a very similar outfit. The officer released the child upon realizing he was not the suspect.
Lansing’s police chief, Ellery Sosobee, released a second statement expressing that he had reviewed the case and found the officer’s conduct to be respectful and professional during the temporary detention of the child. However, he apologized for the impact the incident had on the young man and his family, acknowledging that it had affected all parties involved. Sosobee also urged the community to consider all the facts before passing judgment.
The lawyers representing the Bernard family stated that they have not received any further details from the police beyond what was shared on social media. They mentioned that the family is exploring legal options, including the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
In a separate incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin, police have launched an internal investigation after a video emerged on social media showing an officer punching a Black man whom he mistakenly believed to be involved in a hit-and-run crash.
The police were informed by witnesses that two men and a woman carrying a child had fled towards an Applebee’s restaurant. An employee of the restaurant directed the officers towards a man holding a baby, leading them to discover the actual culprits hiding in the restaurant’s bathroom.
Please note that the Associated Press contributed to this report..