Syracuse, NY – The 8-year-old boy at the center of a controversy over Syracuse police officers’ handling of a shoplifting incident was in trouble again on Thursday after he allegedly stole another child’s bike.
The incident occurred just before 7 p.m. on April 21 – less than a week after the eight-year-old boy was caught stealing Doritos at a local convenience store – on a sidewalk on Grumbach Avenue, WSTM reported.
Syracuse police said a mother filed a complaint with police and said that the same little boy had pushed her son off of his bicycle and taken it.
The police department said officers issued the eight year old a juvenile appearance ticket for petit larceny, WSTM reported.
A video of Syracuse police putting that same child in the backseat of a police car four days earlier after he was caught shoplifting sparked outrage in the community.
The video was filmed on April 17 after 37-year-old Kenneth Jackson saw Syracuse police apprehending someone on a bicycle, The Post-Standard reported.
Jackson said he stopped and began filming the encounter with his cell phone.
“He got snatched off that bike. The bike hit the ground and chips went everywhere,” Jackson told The Post-Standard.
Syracuse police had stopped the eight-year-old child because he had allegedly just stolen a bag of Doritos from a nearby store.
Cell phone video showed an officer holding a little boy by the arms as he marched him toward a waiting patrol car.
The video showed the little boy was screaming and crying and trying to push back against the officer.
The officers on the scene remained calm as they move the hysterical child toward the waiting vehicle, the video showed.
“What are you all doing?” Jackson asked the officers.
“Guess,” replied the officer holding the child. “Take a guess what I’m doing.”
“He looks like a baby to me,” Jackson argued in the video. “I don’t know what you doing.”
The officer replied to Jackson that he was right, he didn’t know what the police were doing.
Then another officer entered the frame and began engaging with Jackson while the other officers seat-belted the crying boy into the back of the police car, the video showed.
“He’s stealing stuff,” the officer told Jackson.
“If he breaks into your house and steals stuff –“ the officer started to say but the rest couldn’t be heard over the man filming.
“Nah man,” Jackson argued. “He stole a bag of chips so y’all treat him like a cold-blooded killer.”
“Keep walking dude,” the officer told Jackson. “You don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
Jackson argued with the officer in the video and insisted he knew what he’d seen.
“I seen y’all snatching him off the bike like he a f-king grown-a-s man,” Jackson said in the video.
Jackson later told The Post-Standard that he thought the incident had to be traumatizing to the little boy.
“There’s other ways to rectify this besides scare tactics,” he said. “Now that’s just another youth that’s scarred by the system.”
Anthony Weah told The Post-Standard that he was out running errands when he received a call from the Syracuse police because his three boys had been caught stealing chips.
Weah said he went straight home to deal with it.
He said the officers were friendly, didn’t press charges, or make him pay for the stolen chips, The Post-Standard reported.
A little while later, Weah saw the video that Jackson had posted of his son being taken into custody.
“Why would the police treat that child like that? Over a $3 bag of chips?” the father asked.
He said he wanted to file a complaint against the officers, The Post-Standard reported.
Widespread condemnation on social media led to a statement posted to the Syracuse Police Department’s official Facebook page on Tuesday addressing the incident.
“We are aware of a video being shared on social media involving several of our Officers and juveniles accused of stealing from a store on the City’s northside,” the statement read. “The incident, including the Officers’ actions and body-worn cameras, are being reviewed.”
Syracuse police said in the statement that there had been some misinformation spread involving the case.
“The juvenile suspected of larceny was not placed in handcuffs,” the statement read. “He was placed in the rear of a patrol unit where he was directly brought home. Officers met with the child’s father and no charges were filed.”
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh also issued a statement about the video on Tuesday, WSYR reported.
“When the online video was first shared with me on Monday, I was concerned,” Walsh said. “I asked Chief Buckner and the SPD to review all body worn camera footage, which is ongoing.”
“Officers were responding to a call for a larceny that had just occurred at a nearby business. Based on what I have seen, the body camera footage demonstrates no handcuffs were used by officers at any time. The child was placed in the back of a patrol car and taken home to his family,” the mayor said.
“The officer knew the child from prior interactions and explained to him that he was being taken home,” he continued. “The officers returned the child to his family and discussed the incident with his father before leaving without filing any charges. What occurred demonstrates the continuing need for the City to provide support to our children and families and to invest in alternative response options to assist our officers.”