Chicago police officers were caught on video handcuffing an innocent 10-year-old boy who was simply playing in his grandmother’s front yard.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said police followed all the rules when they handcuffed and detained 10-year-old Michael Thomas Jr., who allegedly matched the vague description of “a young man 10-to 12 years old that was passing out a gun,” reported The Chicago Sun-Times.
“Keep in mind, this is difficult for an officer to tell right off the bat if you’re 10 years old, 12 years old [or] 14. … So they handcuffed the kid for safety reasons because he did match that description. They followed all the rules and protocols that we have in place. So I’m not concerned about that at all,” Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday.
The video quickly went viral on social media, and shows the terrified child leaning on a police cruiser, crying, and wetting his pants in fear. Bystanders can be heard saying, “That’s our kid,” and “He ain’t got no gun.”
This is sickening.
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.
— Together we rise 🙌🏾 (@Matsamon) June 7, 2018
The 2 unidentified officers justified their actions by saying, “Listen, we got a call about a person who broke out of juvenile hall in blue. We get out the car; that’s when he starts running, that’s why he’s in handcuffs.” Then someone off camera can be heard saying, “He’s scared; y’all killed his father.”
“They put me in handcuffs. I was scared. I was crying,” Thomas told NBC-5.
“They told me I escaped from juvenile and I had a gun. I said I didn’t escape from juvenile and I don’t have a gun…They handcuffed the wrong person.”
“You can see that he doesn’t have any weapons on him,” his grandmother told NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV. “I raised up my grandbaby’s shirt. He don’t have anything on him. Take those handcuffs off of him.”
The boy’s uncle confronted officers at the scene and could be heard on the cellphone video demanding to know why his nephew was in cuffs.
“They’re telling them that someone called them saying that there is a 12-year-old black kid on a bike with all blue on had a gun,” the boy’s uncle said. “There was about five little black boys with all blue on.”
Starr Ramsey, the boy’s mother, wanted an apology for the way they mistreated her son.
“They need to apologize. He’s gonna be scarred for the rest of his life now,” she said.
Johnson said there would be an internal investigation. “I can only imagine the mother’s and grandmother’s anguish that that child had to go through that situation. So, we’re investigating it, just to ensure that everything was done properly,” he said.
Given the way Johnson immediately defended police actions as following “all of the rules and protocols,” an apology for the way police treated this terrified child is unlikely.