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Michigan officials scramble to apologize after black juvenile placed in handcuffs while reportedly taking out the trash

  Several officials in the state capital of Lansing, Michigan, have scrambled to apologize after a black young man was placed in handcuffs a...

 Several officials in the state capital of Lansing, Michigan, have scrambled to apologize after a black young man was placed in handcuffs and temporarily detained while he was reportedly taking out the trash.

On Thursday, 12-year-old Tashawn Bernard was reportedly taking out the trash at a dumpster in his apartment complex when he was wrongfully placed in handcuffs in connection to a string of auto thefts.

The suspected car thief had earlier run from police on foot in the same apartment complex, and Tashawn's clothing that day — a gray shirt and neon shorts — closely resembled the description of the suspect's clothing of neon shorts and a white shirt.

A white police officer, who had allegedly "unholstered" his gun and held it in front of him, mistook Tashawn for the suspect and placed him in handcuffs. Another white officer then briefly placed Tashawn in the back of a police cruiser. 

Meanwhile, Tashawn's father, Michael Bernard, began to wonder what had been taking Tashawn so long. He came outside and attempted to convince the officers that they had detained the wrong person, becoming increasingly frustrated with them while his kid sat in the police car.

About three minutes after Tashawn was placed in handcuffs, officers determined that he was not the correct suspect and released him. "The command officer on the scene made contact with the young man’s father and explained the situation and apologized for the misunderstanding," said a statement from Ellery Sosebee, the chief of the Lansing Police Department. 

The incident was captured on a bystander's cellphone, and the TikTok account careyann327 then shared the video, which quickly went viral. The video begins with officers interacting with Tashawn near a dumpster, after he had already disposed of any garbage.

@careyann327 Kid taking out trash being harassed by police. Father defending his son. Wrong person.
♬ original sound - Talkingtom24🐺

Chief Sosebee has defended the officer who initially made contact with Tashawn, claiming the officer was "respectful and professional during his investigation." "It’s unfortunate that incidents like this occur but through communication and sharing of information, we can help people understand the whole story," Sosebee continued. The police chief also asked "the community to consider all the facts of the situation before making a judgment."

"As the Chief of Police, I want to apologize that this incident had such an effect on this young man and his family," Sosebee added. "... The relationship with our community has been and will continue to be a top priority for the Lansing Police Department."

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, a Democrat, likewise issued an apology, calling the incident a "mistake" that likely occurred because the "young man was wearing the exact same clothing as the suspect." "I join Chief Sosebee in offering my apologies to the young man and to his family," Schor said.

"LPD is in contact with the family and providing resources and support for any trauma involved," Schor's statement continued. "Our officers do their absolute best to protect Lansing, but in this case a mistake was made and we own it and apologize to those affected. As Mayor, I once again offer my sincere apology to this young man."

Despite those profuse apologies, the family does not appear to be satisfied. According to their attorney Rico Neal, Tashawn is "traumatized" by the incident. "Tashawn does not want to go outside anymore," Rico Neal alleged. "He doesn’t want to go outside to take the trash out. He doesn’t want to go outside to even get the mail."

Neal dismissed claims that Tashawn's clothing resembled the clothing worn by the suspect. "There is a big difference between a white shirt and a gray shirt," he said.

Neal also hinted that racism may have played a role in this case as well, according to MLive. "This type of behavior by the police has to stop," he said.

The family is considering "all legal options," including filing a lawsuit.

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