Red-faced cops in Michigan were forced to publicly apologize for mistakenly handcuffing a 12-year-old boy after viral video of the botched bust went viral online.
The youngster, identified as Tashawn Bernard, was taking trash to a dumpster outside his home Thursday when he was confronted by Lansing cops in what the department is now calling “an unfortunate misunderstanding.”
Police claimed the youngster fit the description of a car thief they were looking for.
Footage aired by Fox affiliate WSYM-TV News showed a cop leading the handcuffed boy to a police vehicle while his father, Michael Bernard, could be seen arguing with other officers.
“This was a child,” local activist Tashmica Torok told the local outlet. “There were witnesses around him saying he didn’t do it and officers still chose to put him in the back of a cop car.”
The family said the cop had his gun out of his holster and was holding it in front of him when he approached the confused boy.
The boy’s angry dad said he had asked his son to take out the trash while he was doing the dishes in their home in the apartment complex but became worried when he didn’t come right back — then walked outside to see the youngster in cuffs.
“I was mad about it,” the elder Bernard told the station. “My son would never do anything breaking the law. So I rushed over and I said, ‘What’s the problem? Why you have my son in handcuffs?’ Just like that.”
Police eventually realized their blunder and let the youngster go.
“We are aware of a video circulating social media,” the department said in a mea culpa post on Facebook Friday. “We want to provide some background information on this unfortunate misunderstanding.
“Community relations is a top priority for us as a department, from top-town,” 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.”
Lansing Police Chief Ellery Sosebee said his officers mistook the boy for the suspect in a series of local thefts of Kia vehicles, but were “respectful and professional” during the botched arrest.
The boy’s family is now have a lawyer looking at possible legal action.
“The description of the suspect that police said they got was someone in Neon pants and a white shirt,” family attorney Rico Neal said. “Tashawn was wearing a gray shirt, which is a big difference.
“This has been a traumatic experience for Tashawn and this kind of behavior by officers has to stop.”
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