The mayor and law enforcement officials in Lansing, Michigan, are issuing apologies to the family of a 12-year-old Black boy who was wrongfully arrested as a suspected car thief. Viral footage capturing the boy’s arrest on August 10, while he was taking out the trash from his home, shows a white officer leading the boy through a parking lot with his hands cuffed behind his back. According to a lawyer representing the family, the officer initially approached the boy with an unholstered gun and held it in front of him. The footage also depicts the boy’s father, Michael Bernard, approaching the officer as the boy is taken to a patrol car and placed in the rear seat. Approximately three minutes into the video, officers remove the cuffs and reunite the boy with his father. Mr. Bernard can be heard expressing his outrage at the incident in the video.
The Lansing Police Department issued a series of statements in response, initially labeling the incident as an “unfortunate misunderstanding.” A subsequent statement confirmed that the boy was released to his father once it became evident that he was not the accused party. Officials explained that the boy was wearing the same clothes as a suspect in a vehicle theft investigation. Lansing Police Chief, Ellery Sosobee, expressed his apologies to the young man and his family, emphasizing the repercussions that the incident has had on all parties involved. Chief Sosobee appealed to the community to consider all the facts before passing judgment.
Lansing Mayor, Andy Schor, acknowledged the mistake made by the police in detaining the wrong individual during the vehicle theft investigation. He echoed Chief Sosobee’s sentiment, offering his apologies to the young man and his family. The mayor’s office stated that the police are maintaining contact with the boy’s family and are providing resources and support to help them cope with the trauma resulting from the incident.
Lawyers representing the boy’s family, Ayanna and Rico Neal, announced during a virtual press conference that they are exploring all legal options, including the possibility of a lawsuit. This incident follows a series of wrongful arrests by the Detroit Police Department, where Black residents were mistakenly targeted through the utilization of facial recognition technology.
In conclusion, the wrongful arrest of a 12-year-old Black boy in Lansing, Michigan has sparked outrage. The footage of the incident has gone viral, leading to apologies from the mayor and law enforcement officials. The boy’s family is considering legal action, and this incident raises concerns regarding incorrect targeting of Black individuals in law enforcement procedures.