A video of a Syracuse cop holding a crying 8-year-old boy from behind and detaining him in a squad car over a bag of stolen chips has drawn outrage with people saying the responding officers could have handled the situation better.
In an interview with Syracuse.com, the father of the boys involved in the incident, Anthony Weah, said Syracuse police contacted him about the alleged theft while he was out running an errand on Sunday. Weah added that the officers informed him they were at his home with his sons.
The father of the boys said he also had a friendly interaction with the officers upon getting home, and they did not press any charges or ask them to pay for the chips. But he later got a clearer understanding of what occurred after he saw the video. The father said he intends to file a complaint against the police. The footage in question has been viewed more than two million times on Twitter.
“Why would the police treat that child like that?” Weah questioned. “Over a $3 bag of chips.”
In the video, a Syracuse police officer is seen walking a crying boy to a squad car while holding the minor from behind. The bystander who recorded the video, Kenneth Jackson, is heard shouting at the officers to release the boy. Other bystanders also do the same.
Jackson later gets into a heated argument with the officers and even offers to pay for the chips he has been accused of stealing. But one of the officers is later heard talking about shoplifting and vandalism in the vicinity. Another officer also asks Jackson if he’ll prefer to roam around town and offer to pay for things that are stolen.
“It was just beyond me that they were actually treating this baby like this,” Jackson recalled. Weah commended Jackson’s actions saying, “He was standing up for them.”
The confrontation was also criticized on social media as people questioned the officers’ handling of the situation. “This is child abuse,” a user commented.
“I once pilfered a tiny bag of Skittles, during one of the many times my mom took me grocery shopping as a child. She found the candy in my pocket once back in the car, marched me inside and made me apologize to the cashier and manager,” another user shared. “This kid is being arrested for being a kid.”
“So the police need a [sic] training to learn not to treat a child like this? This isn’t about not knowing, it’s about not caring. Just disgusting,” wrote another user.
Weah admitted his son shouldn’t have committed the alleged offense. But he took issue with the officers’ actions. “The policeman, they are not children,” Weah told Syracuse.com. “They are not boys, they’re men.”
Responding to the incident in a statement, the Syracuse Police Department said the boy who was placed in the patrol unit vehicle was accused of stealing at a store. The department said the boy was not handcuffed, and he was transported home where the officers met his father, and “no charges were filed.”
The department also said they’re conducting a review of the incident.