A 12-year-old who was wrongfully handcuffed and detained by police in Lansing, Michigan last Thursday while taking out the bin has spoken out about his ordeal in what his family says was a “traumatic” experience.
“When it happened, I was really, like, shocked and frightened about like the situation, and how it happened.”
Tashawn’s father, Michael Bernard, said that the incident happened when he asked his son to take the trash out to the dumpster at their apartment complex, but a few minutes later, realizing that Tashawn had not returned, he looked outside and saw that Tashawn was surrounded by police.
The incident was captured on cell phone video and went viral on social media. Tashawn was released moments after he was detained but appeared visibly shaken in the video.
According to a statement by the Lansing Police Department shared on social media, officers were investigating a string of Kia thefts, including the theft of a vehicle that was reported on the 3600 block of W. Jolly Road, where a witness described the suspect as wearing neon-coloured shorts and a white shirt.
An officer “saw the young man pictured in the viral video wearing a very similar outfit and made contact with him,” but he was later “released” after police clarified that he was not the suspect they were seeking.
“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,” the statement said, which included intentionally blurred images of both the suspect and a boy, who was later identified as Tashawn Bernard.
Neal, the Bernard family’s attorney, said that Tashawn was not wearing a white shirt, but rather one that was ” light grey or a light bluish.”
Lansing Police Department Chief Ellery Sosebee also apologized in a statement for what he called an “unfortunate” incident.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor also apologized for the incident, saying that the Lansing Police Department is in contact with the family and providing support.
The Bernard family said that they are keeping all options on the table following the incident, including the possibility of filing a lawsuit,