A 10-year-old Chicago boy has spoken out after a video showing him being handcuffed by police officers went viral.
Michael Thomas Jr. was riding his bicycle with his cousins on June 1 when police officers came into the scene, swerving into the area so suddenly that they nearly knocked Thomas off his bike.
“Police swerved over, almost knocked me off my bike,” Thomas said.
The 15-minute encounter, which was recorded by a bystander, shows his grandmother raising his shirt to show he didn’t have any weapons on him.
Police officers, though, said Thomas fit the description of a suspect so they handcuffed him.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the officers did the right thing and that they can’t know the ages of people before responding to situations.
“The call came out as a young man 10-to 12 years old that was passing out a gun and the description fully matched the individual that they stopped,” Johnson said, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.
“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 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.”
However, a spokesperson for Johnson told Fox 32 in a statement that Johnson ended up calling Thomas’ mother Starr Ramsey and “apologized personally for the difficult situation her child faced.”
“This was a very challenging situation for the officers involved, as they had to balance public safety with a frightened child,” the statement added.
Ramsey said she has taught Thomas not to run away from police officers and worries that the encounter between her young son and the officers could have ended differently.
“Happy he’s still here. And I’m not burying him. Because what if he would’ve took off running and they thought he really did have a gun? Who knows. It could’ve been a whole other way,” Ramsey said.
The family is considering taking legal action against the police officers.