LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The family of a 12-year-old boy detained by Lansing police in a case of mistaken identity Thursday afternoon might take legal action.
Video of the incident was posted on TikTok last night, and now has more than 2 million views. In that video, recorded by a neighbor, 12-year-old Tashawn Bernard has his hands behind his back as a Lansing Police Department officer puts him in the back of a police SUV.
“While I was in the kitchen, time was going by and I was like, ‘something’s wrong,’ said Tashawn’s father, Michael Bernard.
Bernard said he began to worry about his 12-year-old son, Tashawn, when he didn’t come back inside from taking out the trash. And when Bernard went looking for him, he said he found his young son in handcuffs.
I inquired, what was the problem, ‘why does my son have cuffs on him?'” Bernard said.
LPD said in a statement that officers had made a mistake in thinking that Tashawn was a suspect connected to a string of Kia car thefts in the area. They claim that he was wearing similar clothes as the accused person and was in the same apartment complex.
Tashawn Bernard said that during the confusing incident, he was not able to see whether the officer’s gun was still out or not.
“He came out of the car and I saw he had his door open, and I saw in his right hand he had his gun out, and then he told me to put my hands behind my back and I turned around and I don’t know if he put it away,” Tashawn said.
During a press conference Friday night, the family’s legal team said the incident has left Tashawn traumatized.
“Tashawn does not want to go outside anymore; he doesn’t want to go take the trash out or get the mail,” said Rico Neal of Grewal Law.
The law team said that LPD should remove the side-by-side photo of Tashawn and the suspect from its Facebook page.
“The photo is grainy, such that the photograph makes it appear that the shirt that our client was wearing was white when it in fact was gray,” said Ayanna Neal of Grewal Law.
When asked if the family plans to move forward with a lawsuit, their attorneys said it’s a possibility.
“LPD should apologize to our client. That would’ve been the first step. Apologize and figure out how they can make this right so that this doesn’t happen to other young Black man in this community,” said Rico Neal. “Right now, we’re discussing and exploring all legal options that are best suitable for our client and how we can resolve this matter in the manner most favorable for our client. That does include potentially exploring the possibility of filing a lawsuit.”
In a statement released a few hours before the press conference, LPD Chief Ellery Sosebee said the following;
“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 judgement.”
The Lansing chapter of the NAACP and Lansing Mayor Andy Schor also released statements about the incident.