Chicago police officers detained and handcuffed a 10-year-old black boy who was playing in his grandparents’ front yard because they thought he matched the description of someone they were attempting to track down.
Cell phone footage tweeted out Friday that has been viewed over 700,000 times, shows officers handcuffing a young boy, identified by NBC News affiliate Chicago 5 as Michael Thomas Jr., while questioning him about a gun. Chicago police say the officers didn’t do anything wrong.
Police said they had received multiple calls about a young boy with a gun, and said Thomas ran away from them at first when they approached, according to the news outlet.
“Keep in mind, this is difficult for an officer to tell right off the bat if you’re 10 years old, 12 years old [or] 14… So they handcuffed the kid for safety reasons,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday. “Because he did match that description. They followed all the rules and protocols that we have in place, so I’m not concerned about that at all.”
Despite that, Thomas and his family were scared and frustrated.
“They’re telling them that someone called them saying that there is a 12-year-old black kid on a bike with all blue on had a gun,” Michael’s uncle, Victor, can be heard saying in the video. “There was about five little black boys with all blue on.”
Michael’s grandmother can be heard saying in the video that her grandson didn’t have any weapons, and was crying and terrified as the authorities questioned him.
“You can see that he doesn’t have any weapons on him,” she said in the footage. “I raised up my grandbaby’s shirt. He don’t have anything on him. Take those handcuffs off of him.”
It took 15 minutes before the boy’s handcuffs were removed.
“I want answers,” Michael’s mother, Starr Ramsey, told Chicago 5. “You can look at him and tell he no teenager. Ten years old, you get handcuffed? You scarred him for life.”
Chicago Police Department does not deny that it must have been a scary moment for the child.
“But I will say is this: Any time you have to interact from a law enforcement standpoint with a child, it is difficult, so I can only imagine the mother’s and grandmother’s anguish that that child had to go through that situation,” Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday. “So we’re investigating it just to be sure that everything was done properly.”
The Chicago Police Department declined to comment on the incident further than their statement at the press conference.