A Black mother is demanding an apology after Sacramento police officers detained her and her 8-year-old son at gunpoint, mistaking the boy for a teenager wanted for two felonies.
Shanice Stewart, who is nine months pregnant, said she was taking her son, Brandon, to soccer practice around 5 p.m. on Oct. 17 when police officers stopped them, and then more officers surrounded the car and A helicopter hovered in the sky. according to KCRA. Authorities were not looking for Stewart but for his young son, who officers said fit the description of a suspect.
“Really? My 8-year-old baby fits the description of the suspect you’re looking for? Stewart told KCRA. “It just didn’t make sense to me.”
Stewart did not respond to a request for comment, but shared his account of the incident in a Facebook post, writing that police ordered him to throw his keys out the window and slowly get out of the car with his hands in the air. Brandon had also gotten out of the car and was screaming and begging the police not to take his mother. He recalled that the boy tried to tell the officers: “My mom was taking me to practice.”
Shortly afterward, police put an end to the ordeal and told Stewart they had made a mistake. Officers thought the third-grader might have been a juvenile suspect wanted on a pair of felony warrants, including one for weapons possession, according to a statement from the Sacramento Police Department. Stewart was surprised.
“You wasted tax money by using a helicopter and several officers to close the highway for me and my 8-year-old son,” he continued. in the facebook post. “I’m not sure what to do, but I was scared for my baby.”
Sacramento police acknowledged the mistake in a statement to NBC News. A spokesman said officers “observed a juvenile they believed to be the wanted suspect” get into a vehicle with heavily tinted windows. They conducted a “high-risk stop” involving several police officers and the helicopter until they realized the child in the vehicle was not the suspect, according to the release.
“We must recognize that a case of mistaken identity occurred. “Our officers provided an explanation and apologized to the mother and her son,” police said in the statement. “Our department has been in contact with her mother since the incident. “We recognize the impact that police interactions can have on members of our community.”
Stewart told ABC News that the incident has traumatized Brandon. She said that she is now afraid to drive on the road and is very aware of the police presence. As for Stewart, she said she feared the police would shoot her or her son.
“It was definitely heartbreaking. It is something that changes life.” Stewart told ABC News. “For us to have done nothing and to have come this far.”
The incident follows one in March 2018. Stephon Clark shooting, a black man who Sacramento police allegedly killed in his grandmother’s backyard. The shooting sparked protests and even more anger after federal authorities declined to file charges against the officers involved in Clark’s death.
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This article was originally published in NBCNews.com