Mother held at gunpoint with 8-year-old son wants police to pay for his therapy

A woman who is nine months pregnant wants police to cover the cost of therapy for her 8-year-old son who she says was traumatized when police in Sacramento, California, pulled them over at gunpoint in a case of mistaken identity.

Shanice Stewart, who works as a hairstylist, said her son, Brandon, is afraid to ride on the highway and becomes anxious when near police following the Oct. 17 incident. Police pulled the pair over around 5 p.m. that night with their guns drawn, believing the third-grader to be a teen wanted on two felonies.

Stewart said she fears the incident will have a lasting negative impact on Brandon.

Brandon in his football uniform. (Courtesy Shanice Stewart)
Brandon in his football uniform. (Courtesy Shanice Stewart)

“My son was yelling and pleading, ‘Please don’t take my mom.’ He was crying,” Stewart said. “It really bothers him to talk about it. I don’t want him to have it bottled inside.”

Four Sacramento police cars and a helicopter surrounded Stewart and her son that night as she drove him to football practice. Stewart initially feared the officers would shoot her, but soon learned they were there for her son.

“That’s when I was moreso hurt,” said Stewart. “I was like, ‘My 8-year-old? My baby? Are you serious? I was hurt, I was angry, terrified for him. I don’t understand how a mistake can go toward an 8-year-old. It could’ve ended so badly.”

Sacramento police told NBC News in a statement this week that the officers had been tracking the pair since they left their home. Police were looking for a “juvenile who was wanted for two felony warrants, including a warrant for gun possession” and believed it necessary to perform a “high-risk stop” when they thought they’d found the suspect. They added that they are reviewing the situation.

“We must acknowledge that a case of mistaken identity occurred. Our officers provided an explanation and an apology to the mother and her son,” police said in the statement. “Our department has been in contact with the mother since the incident. We recognize the impact that police interactions can have on our community members.”

Shanice Stewart with her son Brandon. (Courtesy Shanice Stewart)
Shanice Stewart with her son Brandon. (Courtesy Shanice Stewart)

Stewart said police contacted her the day after the incident to explain what happened. She said she has since filed a complaint with the city’s Internal Affairs Division. Ultimately, she wants a “genuine apology” and for the department to cover the costs of therapy for her son to heal from the ordeal.

“He’s definitely going to have to deal with therapy for a while,” Stewart said. “He’s never been through that before, being pulled over and having a gun pulled out on him. We both are going through pain and suffering. Compensation for pain and suffering because this is going to cause some things in the future.”

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