Chicago Police Chief Defends Cops Who Handcuffed 10-Year-Old in Case of Mistaken Identity

A 10-year-old identified as Michael Thomas Jr. is cuffed by police as an outraged community looks on.
A 10-year-old identified as Michael Thomas Jr. is cuffed by police as an outraged community looks on.
Screenshot: WMAQ-TV

Another day, another case of this country’s “finest” proving that they are anything but.

Advertisement

A 10-year-old Chicago boy was shackled placed in handcuffs outside his grandmother’s home on Friday after police mistakenly accused him of being a juvenile runaway with a gun.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said Wednesday that police “followed all of the rules and protocols” when they detained 10-year-old Michael Thomas Jr., who matched the description of “a young man 10 to 12 years old that was passing out a gun,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Advertisement

“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,” said Johnson, who was asked about the incident at an appearance with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In the disturbing video circulating on social media, the little boy can be seen pressed on a police car, crying, and then wetting his pants in fear and humiliation as helpless bystanders can be heard saying, “That’s our kid,” “Unbelievable” and “He ain’t got no gun.”

Advertisement

The two unidentified officers justify their actions by saying, “Listen, we got a call about a person who broke out of juvenile hall in blue. We get out the car; that’s when he starts running, that’s why he’s in handcuffs,” to which someone off camera replies, “He’s scared; y’all killed his father.”

NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV spoke to several family members, including Michael’s grandmother, uncle and mother, and shared a longer video.

Advertisement

“You can see that he doesn’t have any weapons on him,” a woman identified as the grandmother says. “I raised up my grandbaby’s shirt. He don’t have anything on him. Take those handcuffs off of him.”

Advertisement

The boy’s uncle confronted officers at the scene and could be heard on the cellphone video demanding to know why his nephew was in cuffs.

“They’re telling them that someone called them saying that there is a 12-year-old black kid on a bike with all blue on had a gun,” the uncle is heard saying in the video. “There was about five little black boys with all blue on.”

Advertisement

The boy’s mother, identified as Starr Ramsey, demanded an explanation from police after the traumatic, 15-minute incident.

“They need to apologize. He’s gonna be scarred for the rest of his life now,” she said.

Advertisement

Johnson promises an internal investigation, but don’t hold your breath for an apology.

And still, some wonder why black people run from police or cheer when a kid makes them eat his dust.

Advertisement

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

kccomplainsalot
KC Complains A Lot

The most frustrating, maddening thing about this whole fucked up situation is that this kid clearly thinks he’s going to die. He’s terrified. He wets himself in honest to God fear of the alleged “peace keepers”.

And if one of those cops had been more trigger happy, it’s entirely justified in having that fear. All it takes is one of these cowardly fuckers thinking this kid had a done and he’s dead. He’s dead as fuck. This story could just as easily be yet another “cops shoot an unarmed child” stories.

“A black child aged 10 wearing all blue” could literally be any fucking child. It’s the shittiest possible description you could give. The suspect had no other identifying features? No one knew what haircut he had?

I said it in one of the other threads, but there’s an assumption made that to become a cop you have to like doing police work. But most of these guys just want to drive a fast car with a loaded gun. So many officers would rather escalate a situation with force than try and do the most basic amount of investigating into just what in the fuck they should be looking for in a suspect.

There’s an alternate reality where this kid is dead and the police officer and the fucking mayor stick behind their cop for “following protocol”. Fuck your protocol. These cops could’ve easily stopped the kid, calmed him down and asked if he had a weapon. I understand the suspect was armed, but assuming you’re not out for fucking blood, your first instinct as a cop SHOULD BE to try and resolve shit peacefully, not to put a 10-year-old in handcuffs. Especially when you see all the cops go out of their way to capture white criminals who have shot people alive.