A 10-year-old boy from Chicago was handcuffed by the police and accused of having a gun, a cellphone video shows.
Fourth-grader Michael Thomas Jr. was outside his grandmother’s house when Chicago police officers handcuffed him and started questioning him about a gun. They accused him of having escaped from a juvenile detention facility. The video shows Thomas Jr. upset and on the verge of tears.
This is sickening.— Together we rise 🙌🏾 (@Matsamon) June 7, 2018
10-yo black boy playing outside grandmother's home was wrongfully detained and placed in handcuffs! Chicago police say it was a case of mistaken identity.
Poor kid was so scared that he wet his pants.
These cops need to be held responsible for this.
Officers were responding to a call about a black male between the ages of 10 and 12 in the area. The caller had said the boy had a gun. According to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Thomas Jr. fit the description so they approached him. But at first, officers said, the boy ran.
“I was scared and I was crying and that’s when they told me I had escaped from juvenile and I had a gun,” Thomas Jr. told reporters. “I said I didn’t escape from juvenile and I don’t have a gun.”
So we’re handcuffing 10 year olds???https://t.co/ThWd8ykc8V— Twyla B Larnell, PhD (@tblarnell) June 7, 2018
At the time of the incident, the boy’s grandmother, Yolanda, witnessed the entire ordeal. She told reporters that she promptly stood up to the officers, demanding answers.
“You can see that he doesn’t have any weapons on him. I raised up my grandbaby’s shirt. He don’t have anything on him. Take those handcuffs off him. He should have never been put in those handcuffs,” she said.
She said police officers were not looking for a kid but a teenager. A detail that Thomas Jr.’s uncle, Victor, backed up, saying that officers were looking for “a 12-year-old black kid on a bike with all blue on [with] a gun.”
He added that there were “about five little black boys with all blue on” near the house at the time, and yet, it was Thomas Jr. who got stopped by police.
According to the boy’s family, this case of mistaken identity should not simply be pushed aside. The boy, after all, deserves an apology.
“That’s our kid. They need to apologize,” Starr Ramsey, the child’s mother, told reporters. “He’s going to be scared for the rest of his life now. I want answers. You can look at him and tell he’s not a teenager. Ten years old, you get handcuffed? You scarred him for life.”
Now, she added, the child will think twice before calling the police in the future.
Johnson defended the cops’ actions and told reporters that while he “can only imagine the mother’s and grandmother’s anguish,” officers followed protocol.
Chicago police told reporters that the incident is under investigation.
Clearly, these officers aren’t likely to suffer any punishment for handcuffing an innocent boy. Still, it goes to show just how young boys of color are treated by the police.
Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Reuters/Jim Young