Syracuse police are releasing new information amid public outcry, after a viral video showed an upset 8-year-old boy being put into a police car for allegedly stealing chips from a Dollar General store.
In the viral video, onlookers argue with police officers to let the boy go, while officers tell them they can’t do that and are bringing the boy home to his parents.
It’s a scene that Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said struck a nerve with the whole community.
“We’ve all been angry,” said Walsh. “We felt sadness. How could you not, listening to that little boy screaming and crying? But above all else, I think everyone is frustrated.”
In the wake of the community outrage, Syracuse police released footage from the officers’ body cameras. It shows the officers putting the child into the police car and asking him repeatedly to “stop” as the boy screams and struggles. Then, the officers take the boy home, where they had a discussion with the child and his father.
Syracuse Police Deputy Chief Joe Cecile is asking the community to move beyond vilifying the officers. He said the officers knew the boy from previous interactions, and a District Captain even went to the boy’s home several weeks ago to speak with the family and give the boy and his siblings a badge.
“The officers that responded to this 911 complaint of a larceny in progress located the child who was stealing, didn’t handcuff him, didn’t arrest him, didn’t take him to jail. We don’t do that. What they did do is call him by name and take him home to his father,” said Cecile.
Still, Walsh said this is a painful situation, and the city and police department will be reviewing what can be done better. Part of that will include partnering with groups who are specially trained to respond to calls involving children and provide them with the support they need.
“This is a snapshot of what is happening all over this city and all over this country,” said Walsh. “Our kids are struggling, and we’re all doing our best to try to help, but we need to do more. It’s not enough.”