According to the family, it was a “traumatic” event.
Police apologized for what they called a mistaken identification.
“When it happened, I was really, like, shocked and frightened about the situation and how it happened,” Tashawn Bernard said in an interview on Monday.
“This has been a traumatic and emotional experience for him and his entire family,” said Rico Neal, the family’s attorney.
Michael Bernard, Tashawn’s father, said the event occurred when he requested his son carry the garbage to the dumpster at their apartment building.
However, when he realized Tashawn had not returned, he peeked outside and saw that cops surrounded Tashawn.
“When I saw cops around him, I dropped what I was holding… and dashed downstairs,” Bernard said. So I ask, “Why are you handcuffing my son?” ‘What’s the issue?'”
The event was recorded on mobile phone footage and quickly became popular on social media. Tashawn was freed shortly after being held, but he seemed noticeably scared in the video.
According to a statement shared on social media by the Lansing Police Department on Friday, officers were investigating a string of Kia thefts, including the theft of a vehicle reported on the 3600 block of W. Jolly Road, where a witness described the suspect as wearing neon-colored shorts and a white shirt.
While one officer followed a suspect matching the description, another “saw the young man pictured in the viral video wearing a very similar outfit and made contact with him,” according to police, but he was eventually “released” after police established that he was not the culprit they were looking for.
“From the top down, community relations is a top priority for us as a department.” “Our hope is that we can put this unfortunate case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ behind us and continue to represent the community that we serve,” the Aug. 11 statement added, including purposefully blurred photographs of the suspect and a kid subsequently identified as Tashawn Bernard.
Tashawn, according to Neal, was not wearing a white shirt, but rather one that was “light gray or a light bluish.”
Lansing Police Chief Ellery Sosebee issued an apology statement on Friday for what he termed a “unfortunate” occurrence.
“I have reviewed the incident and can confirm that the officer who contacted and detained the young man was respectful and professional during his investigation,” Sosebee added.
“As Chief of Police, I want to apologize for the impact this incident had on this young man and his family,” Sosebee concluded. “I’m requesting that the community consider all of the facts of the situation before passing judgment.” The Lansing Police Department’s connection with our community has been and will continue to be a major priority.”
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor also apologized, telling ABC News that the Lansing Police Department is in touch with the family and offering assistance.
“Our officers do their absolute best to protect Lansing, but a mistake was made in this case, and we own it and apologize to those affected,” Shor said.
Following the event, the Bernard family said that they are considering all possibilities, including filing a lawsuit.
“I want justice for my son,” Bernard said, adding, “in this time and era in America, I am still scared for anything to happen to my son.”
“This has been an extremely traumatic experience for Tashawn and his family,” Neal added. “This is an experience that Tashawn and his family will remember for the rest of their lives.”