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Outcry grows after 12-year-old boy was handcuffed by Lansing police; family seeks accountability

Lansing police patrol unit
Reginald Hardwick

The parents of a 12-year-old boy who was put in handcuffs last week by a Lansing police officer are seeking to hold the department accountable. Police say they mistook the Black preteen for a suspect involved in a string of car thefts.

Last week, a video went viral online showing the interaction between Lansing police officers and the seventh grader.

Officers approached the boy while he was taking out the trash outside his home.

They put him in handcuffs and briefly placed him inside a patrol car. Officers released him after confirming he was not the suspect they were looking for. His father was outside during much of the incident talking with police.

Ayanna Neal and Rico Neal from Grewal Law are the attorneys representing the 12-year-old boy and his family.

Ayanna says he has been extremely traumatized by the incident to the point that he’s refusing to go outside.

“He doesn't want to check the mail because he doesn't know, you know what will happen. He was extremely frightened and scared during his contact with the police,” he added.

According to a statement from LPD, officers approached the boy because they say he was wearing a similar outfit to the suspect.

“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 …wearing a very similar outfit and made contact with him,” the statement on Facebook read.

Rico Neal says while the boy was wearing neon-colored shorts the shirt he was wearing was light blue and gray.

“He is clearly a child, not a young adult male or an adult male, and so that was very concerning,” he said. “This is a child who has handcuffed and put in the back of a police vehicle.”

Since the video's publication, several Lansing community members have spoken out against the city's police department.

Activist and director of the Firecracker Foundation Tashmica Torok says this incident is an example of how local law enforcement over police communities of color.

“Especially given that this child is 12, and clearly not an adult person, and where he was standing, there were witnesses who were letting the police know who he was and why he was there. And law enforcement still decided to handcuff a child,” she said.

Attorney Rico Neal says his team is in the early stages of exploring legal options against the city. For now, he says the parents want to have the costs of therapy for their son covered by the city of Lansing.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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