LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Lansing Police have responded to a viral video showing its officers detaining a 12-year-old boy. The video has been viewed more than 2 million times on TikTok.

Police contend the boy in the video matched the description of a person of interest wanted in a recent string of Kia thefts.

Police detained the boy in handcuffs for several minutes at the Waverly Park Apartments near Jolly and Waverly in the southwest part of the city. Lansing Police also confirmed one officer did unholster their gun, but did not point it at the boy.

Police shared two images showing what it describes as “both individuals.” Police blurred the images to protect the identity of the teens.

Police shared two images showing what it describes as “both individuals.” Police blurred the images to protect the identity of the teens. (Image: LPD)

Family’s Reaction

Father of the boy, Michael Bernard, says his son is traumatized by the experience and he will not be letting his child out of his sight.

“It wasn’t making sense to me what they were saying to me. I didn’t want to hear it. I was already mad because of the way they execute their duty. It was wrong, plain wrong,” remembered Bernard.

His son, Tashawn, says he was throwing out the trash and thought the officer was just driving by.

“He came out of the car and I saw he had his door open. But I saw in his right hand, he had his gun out and he told me to put my hands behind my back. And I turned around and I don’t know if he put it away,” said the boy.

Mr. Bernard reviewed the Lansing Police Department’s statement on the incident with 6 News. He says he’s not satisfied with the explanation.

“{It} can’t be the wrong place at the wrong time, my son lives over here. How is it going to be a wrong place?” he said.

Bernard says it’s hard to watch the video of the ordeal. He calls the experience a bleak lesson for his son.

“I let him know, the world you live in, the country you live in, and the people you’ll be dealing with, so be a man and be strong.”

Lansing Police Department’s Statement

“We are aware of a video circulating social media. We want to provide some background information on this unfortunate misunderstanding,” Lansing Police wrote in an online statement. “On Thursday afternoon, our officers were investigating a string of Kia thefts, including a specific one reported on the 3600 block of W. Jolly Road with multiple suspects. A witness described a suspect as wearing neon shorts and a white shirt. A responding officer saw a subject matching this description and attempted to make contact but the subject fled and ran west in to the nearby apartment complex. A different officer was in the area and saw the young man pictured in the viral video wearing a very similar outfit and made contact with him. The initial officer was able to respond and clarify the young man in the video was not the suspect who fled earlier. Once this information was obtained, the young man was released and officers continued to search the area. We are including pictures of both individuals. We have blurred both photos to protect the identities of the subjects.

“Community relations is a top priority for us as a department, from top down. Our hope is we can put this unfortunate case of “wrong place, wrong time” behind us and continue to represent the community that we serve.”

Lansing Police Chief’s Statement

Lansing Police Chief Ellery Sosebee also published an online statement late Friday afternoon, “The officers of the Lansing Police Department are working very hard to address the recent car thefts plaguing our city,” Chief Ellery wrote. “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. I have reviewed the incident and can confirm the officer who contacted and detained the young man was respectful and professional during his investigation.

“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.”

Lansing Mayor’s Statement

Shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said in a written statement, “The Lansing Police Department made a mistake in detaining the wrong person during a vehicle theft investigation. The young man was wearing the exact same clothing as the suspect, however it was quickly confirmed he was not the suspect in question and he was released. I join Chief Sosebee in offering my apologies to the young man and to his family. LPD is in contact with the family and providing resources and support for any trauma involved. 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. As Mayor, I once again offer my sincere apology to this young man.”

NAACP’s Statement

The Lansing chapter of the NAACP provided the following statement, “We saw the video. Obviously, this is disturbing for the young man and the father. Police Chief Sosebee reached out and shared the details of the incident. The branch will continue to monitor and follow up on any further developments.”