Lansing police said a video circulating online that shows officers detaining a 12-year-old boy in handcuffs was an "unfortunate misunderstanding" that stemmed from the foot chase of a suspect wanted in a suspected vehicle theft. The video sparked outrage online and prompted the Lansing Police Department to put out a statement.
Video footage of the incident was posted to social media with users saying the boy, later identified as Tashawn Bernard, was detained as he was throwing away garbage.
The four-minute-long video appears to show a young, Black male wearing neon yellow shorts and a white T-shirt being detained by a police officer outside an apartment complex. A man tells officers they are traumatizing his son and the male was put into a police vehicle before later being released to the man who said he was the individual's father.
Watch the clip below:
Lansing Police Claimed the Boy's Outfit Matched Suspect's Description
The Lansing police department put out a statement by Police Chief Ellery Sosebee addressing the incident and admitting the arrest was an "unfortunate misunderstanding."
"The officers of the Lansing Police Department are working very hard to address the recent car thefts plaguing our city. 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 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."
"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.
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."
The attorneys representing the Bernard family said they were exploring "all legal options" for the family, including a possible lawsuit. The family wants to ensure that the same situation doesn't happen to anyone else, they said.