Michigan officials apologise after wrongly arresting 12-year-old Black boy in ‘unfortunate’ incident

The mayor and law enforcement officials in Lansing, Michigan, are issuing apologies to the family of a 12-year-old Black boy who was mistakenly arrested as a suspected car thief. Disturbing footage of the arrest, which took place on August 10th, shows a white police officer leading the boy through a parking lot with his hands cuffed behind his back. According to the family’s lawyer, the officer had initially approached the boy with an unholstered gun, holding it in front of him.

In the video, the boy’s father, Michael Bernard, can be seen approaching the officer as his son is placed in the backseat of a patrol car. Roughly three minutes later, the officers remove the handcuffs and walk the boy towards his father. Mr. Bernard can be heard saying in the video, “They traumatized my son.”

The Lansing Police Department released a series of statements regarding the incident. The first statement referred to it as an “unfortunate misunderstanding,” while the second stated that the boy was released to his father when it was determined that he was not the accused. The officials explained that the boy was wearing the same clothes as a suspect in a vehicle theft investigation. Lansing police chief Ellery Sosobee expressed regret in a statement, acknowledging the impact of the incident on the young man and his family. He called for the community to consider all the facts before passing judgment.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor joined Chief Sosebee in apologizing to the young man and his family. The mayor’s office stated that the police are in contact with the boy’s family, offering resources and support for any trauma resulting from the incident. Mayor Schor stated, “Our officers do their absolute best to protect Lansing, but in this case, a mistake was made, and we own it and apologize to those affected.” Furthermore, the lawyers representing the boy’s family are exploring all legal options, including a potential lawsuit, in response to the wrongful arrest.

This incident comes at a time when the Detroit Police Department is under increased scrutiny for wrongful arrests of Black residents due to faulty facial recognition technology. The incident involving the 12-year-old boy highlights the need for improved communication, better training, and heightened accountability to prevent such mistakes from occurring in the future. The apologies made by the mayor and law enforcement officials are a step towards acknowledging the wrongdoing and working towards justice for the affected family.

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