Last June 1
Last June 1
3333px">st, a 10-year-old from Chicago named Michael Thomas, Jr. was at his grandmother’s place having fun on his bike when police suddenly swooped in on him. Scared for his life, the kid took off for a short distance on his bike before police cut him off.
In fact, the police car had swerved so hard into his path that Michael was nearly knocked out of his bike.
The police were responding to reports of a juvenile in the area with a gun. They said that Michael fit the description and promptly handcuffed him. A bystander started filming the incident and we can see Michael leaning into the hood of a police car while he has his hands cuffed behind him.
Michael’s grandmother Yolanda, who was luckily on the scene, kept raising the kid’s shirt to show the police that he didn’t have a gun. The poor kid was crying and so frightened that he had even pissed himself.
After 15 minutes of this ordeal, police were finally convinced and let the kid go. But the damage had already been done.
As expected, the now-viral video sent shockwaves across social media. In a country facial increasing racial tensions because of a perceived police bias against black people, the incident couldn’t have come at a worse time.
However, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson defended his men, saying, “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.
“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.”
But even as he released that statement, reports say that Superintendent Johnson apologized in person last June 7th to Michael’s mother, Starr Ramsey.
Ramsey says that she taught her son not to run from police but, under the circumstances, Michael’s initial reaction was understandable. Still, she was thankful enough because the encounter could have ended much differently. In 2017 alone, 19 unarmed black males were shot and killed by police.
“Happy he’s still here. And I’m not burying him. Because what if he would’ve taken off running and they thought he really did have a gun? Who knows. It could’ve been a whole other way,” says Ramsey.
While the incident is already over, unfortunately for young Michael it may have left an indelible mark that will last him the rest of his life.