LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing Police Department is getting backlash for detaining a preteen who apparently did nothing wrong. The whole incident was caught on camera.
Tashawn Bernard, 12, was handcuffed and tossed behind a cop car on Thursday while just taking out the trash. But what’s even more alarming is what allegedly happened before that.
“He was approached by the police officer, who had his gun unholstered and was holding it in front of him,” said Tashawn’s attorney Ayanna Neal.
Tashawn and his parents were present at a virtual press conference Friday held by their attorneys Grelaw Law to discuss the incident.
“Our son should not have been subject to this interaction with the Lansing Police Department and we didn’t seek this much attention,” said Tashawn’s father Michael Bernard.
But the attention came , with the video making its rounds on social media thousands of times.
Lansing Police later released a statement saying Tashawn matched the description of a suspect involved in car thefts.
“The description of the suspect that police said they got was someone in Neon pants and a white shirt, Tashawn was wearing a gray shirt, which is a big difference,” said attorney Tashawn’s attorney Rico Neal.
Police called the the incident an “unfortunate case of wrong place, wrong time”
“This was a child, there were witnesses around him saying he didn’t do it and officers still chose to put him in the back of a cop car,” said community activist Tashmica Torok.
Torok said this happens too often and she and other local leaders are pushing for change, through the proposed Breathe Community Safety Act.
“It’s aimed to help Lansing come together and see a bigger vision on what community safety could look like without causing long term damage to youth, especially Black youth.”
It’s unclear if if Tashawn’s family will filed a lawsuit against LPD, but they’re hoping it’s a lesson officers all over can learn from.
“This has been a traumatic experience for Tashawn, and this kind of behavior from officers has to stop,” Rico said.
Lansing Police chief Ellery Sosebee said the officer who made contact with Tashawn was “respectful and professional”. We reached out to the police department to see if that officer was placed on leave as a result of the investigation, but they did not get back to us.