‘Wrong place, wrong time’: Media pounces on black 12-year-old boy being detained by police

Police in Michigan had to issue an apology after they detained and handcuffed a 12-year-old boy in a mistaken identity incident that shook the family and the youngster.

Tashawn Bernard was simply taking out the trash outside his family’s Lansing apartment when he was spotted by an officer who was searching for a suspect in a string of car thefts.

A now-viral video emerged on TikTok showing the 12-year-old black boy being placed in handcuffs and detained by officers in a harrowing experience that understandably shook him and his concerned family. Police quickly sought to clarify the incident and issued a statement urging the community to “consider all the facts of the situation before making a judgment.”

@uncle4nem Young Kid Arrested While Taking The Trash Out Father Rushes Outside To See What’s Goin On #wrongfullyaccused #policeofficer #policeofficersoftiktok #fitthedescription #fyp #explore #wrongfularrest #blackticktok #whitetictok #garbageman #tashawnbernard #lansingmichigan #lansingmichiganpolice ♬ original sound – Uncle4nem

According to a lawyer who is now representing the Bernard family, the officer had his “gun unholstered and was holding it in front of [Tashawn]” when he approached the minor, The Hill reports.

An officer removed the handcuffs about three minutes into the video, and Tashawn was able to join his concerned father on the sidewalk.

The Lansing Police Department quickly issued an apology on Facebook.

“The officers of the Lansing Police Department are working very hard to address the recent car thefts plaguing our city,” said Chief Ellery Sosebee in the statement. “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 statement continued. “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,” Chief Sosebee said. “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.”

But the damage had already been done.

Online, the “wrong place, wrong time” explanation fell flat, and the Bernards’ attorneys, Ayanna and Rico Neal claimed Tashawn is so “traumatized” that he “does not want to go outside anymore,” according to The Hill.

Social media users reacted with outrage and concern for the young boy.

One user went so far as to call on “#BlackTwitter” to “drag” the Lansing police officers on Twitter and on Facebook.

A few others, however, seemed to defend the officers doing their jobs.


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