A video of a white officer detaining a 12-year-old Black child outside of his home this week prompted outrage on social media.
In the video, the officer is seen leading the boy — whose hands are cuffed behind his back — through the parking lot of a Lansing, Mich., apartment complex on Thursday (Aug. 10).
Tashawn Bernard was taking trash out to a dumpster when he was approached by the officer, according to the Associated Press. According to a lawyer representing the family, the officer had his "gun unholstered and was holding it in front of him."
Lansing Police said that the officer was searching the apartment complex for a suspect in a string of car thefts when he came upon the boy. They claimed that a witness described clothes that the suspect was wearing after eluding another officer in a different apartment complex.
They alleged that Bernard was wearing “a very similar outfit,” stopped him and released him when the officer realized he was not the suspect.
On Friday, the police department called the incident an “unfortunate case of ‘wrong place, wrong time.'"
According to the AP, about three minutes into the video of the incident, an officer removed the handcuffs and spoke with the boy for about 30 seconds. He was then allowed to join his father on the sidewalk.
Lawyers for the family said that the incident traumatized the boy so much that he no longer wants to go outside.
The family is “exploring all legal options,” including “the possibility of filing a lawsuit,” lawyers said.
"Community relations is a top priority for us as a department, from top-down," the police department wrote in a statement reprinted by the Lansing State Journal. "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."
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