Frisco Police Chief David Shilson on Friday rendered an apology for holding a Black family at gunpoint during a “high-risk stop” after an officer mistakenly suspected the car they were riding in was stolen.
According to CNN, the tense encounter occurred after an officer mistakenly ran the vehicle’s Arkansas (AR) plate as being from Arizona (AZ). Police in a news release said the results received after running the plate led the officer to suspect the black Dodge Charger had been stolen.
Police on Friday said the July 23 incident occurred after the officer “observed a black Dodge Charger with an out of state license plate leaving a hotel.” The officer then ran the vehicle’s Arkansas license plate due to “recent burglaries and vehicle thefts in which Chargers are frequently stolen.”
Police said the officer, however, mistakenly entered the plate out of Arizona, adding that the “error resulted in an incorrect registration return, leading the officer to believe the vehicle was possibly stolen.”
“The officer then initiated a high-risk traffic stop on the Dallas North Tollway, which is standard procedure for stolen vehicles,” the release stated. After backup officers arrived, the driver and passenger were ordered to step out of the car.
“About that time, a Frisco Police Sergeant arrived. The Sergeant realized the mistake and immediately ordered the officers to ‘stand down’ and ended the high-risk stop.”
In released body camera footage, an officer pointing his gun toward the Dodge Charger is heard ordering the woman driving the car to step out. The Black woman’s 6th-grade son was also a passenger in the car.
“Slowly exit the vehicle. Face away from us. (…) Turn around. Do not face us,” the officer is heard saying with his gun drawn. “Everybody in the car – hands outside the window. (…) Driver, slowly lift up your shirt, only for us to see your waistband. Slowly spin around.”
“If you reach in that car, you may get shot so be careful. Do not reach in the car,” the officer adds after the driver informs him she has a licensed gun that is locked in the car’s glove compartment.
The officer who pulled the family over is later heard questioning the woman about the car’s license plate. The woman also informs the officer that the two minors in the car are her son and nephew. The woman’s husband is also heard talking to one of the officers and telling him that the vehicle belongs to his wife.
“Listen sir, this is my wife’s car. We’re just in a basketball tournament,” the man says. “I’m a basketball coach. Look at this bro,” the man adds as his son cries in the background. “I got conceal carry … Y’all put a gun on my son for no reason.”
The officers later realized the car’s license plate was incorrectly inputted after a Frisco police sergeant responded to the scene, per CNN. An officer then admitted a mistake had been made.
“That’s a terrible experience,” the father replies. “You all got to do your job, but we’re all legit.” The officer also tells the family that “it looks like I made a mistake.” “So I ran it AZ for Arizona, instead of AR – and that’s what happened,” the officer adds.
“It could have gone all wrong for us,” the father replies. The Black man is also heard crying. “We’re so sorry that happened like this. We had no intent on doing this, you know?” an officer is heard telling the Black family. “We’re humans as well and we make mistakes. I’m not justifying anything, I’m just saying, like, it wasn’t a computer that ran it. It was our human error that did this. So please forgive us.”
Shilson in the statement said they “made a mistake.” “Our department will not hide from its mistakes. Instead, we will learn from them. The officer involved quickly accepted responsibility for what happened, which speaks to integrity. I’ve spoken with the family. I empathize with them and completely understand why they’re upset,” the police chief added.
Frisco police also said an incident review was launched on the day of the incident to ascertain “what happened, how it was managed, and to evaluate what needed to be addressed to prevent this from happening in the future.” The statement said that “an ongoing review will identify further changes to training, policies, and procedures.”
“I apologized on behalf of our department and assured them that we will hold ourselves accountable and provide transparency through the process. This incident does not reflect the high standard of service that our officers provide on a daily basis to our residents, businesses and visitors,” said Shilson.