A viral video posted to TikTok shows officers mistakenly detaining a young Black man they believed to be a suspect in a string of car thefts in Michigan. The Lansing Police Department has addressed the video and calls it an “unfortunate understanding.”
The video captures the young man in a parking lot near a large dumpster, shortly after a police officer has handcuffed him. Soon after, a man who appears to be his father comes out and defends the young man being detained.
“They traumatized my son,” the man says in the video.
The father and the person filming can both be heard saying that the young person was simply taking out the trash.
In a Facebook statement posted on Friday, Lansing police said the young man, wearing neon shorts and a white shirt, matched the description of a car theft suspect that officers were actively pursuing. The officer who initially detained the young man then was able to “clarify” he was not the suspect, the statement said.
The video then shows the young Black man being released as his father speaks to police officers.
Many social media users are also sharing their thoughts regarding the video and the statement from the police.
Whitney Alese, a popular TikTok user and social justice advocate, said she wasn’t shocked when she first watched the video because of how frequent arrests occur with young Black people. She called the actions by the Lansing Police Department in the video “harmful,” “hurtful” and “shameful.”
She said she believes the police officers were pervasively stereotyping the young man in the video.
“Too often, Black bodies are harmed while law enforcement hides behind the phrase ‘they fit the description,” Alese said to NBC News. “While law enforcement calls it an ‘unfortunate misunderstanding,’ they don’t know what kind of harm they have done to the psyche of this child, this family or this community.”
The video currently has more than 2.6 million views and multiple comments defending the young man who was detained.
“Our hope is we can put this unfortunate case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ behind us and continue to represent the community that we serve,” Lansing police said in a statement.