A Black mother is demanding an apology after Sacramento police officers pulled her and her 8-year-old son over at gunpoint, mistaking the child for a teen wanted for two felonies.
Shanice Stewart, who is nine months pregnant, said she was driving her son, Brandon, to football practice around 5 p.m. on Oct. 17 when police officers pulled them over, with more officers later surrounding the car and a helicopter hovering in the sky, according to KCRA. Authorities were not after Stewart but her young son, who the officers thought fit the description of a suspect.
“Really? My 8-year-old baby fits the description of the suspect you’re looking for?” Stewart told KCRA. “It just didn’t make sense to me.”
Stewart has not responded to a request for comment, but she did share her account of the incident in a Facebook post, writing that police ordered her to toss her keys out of the window and slowly exit the car with her hands in the air. Brandon had gotten out of the car as well, and was screaming and begging the police not to take his mother away. She recalled the boy trying to tell the officers, “My mom was just taking me to practice.”
Shortly after, police ended the ordeal and told Stewart that they had made a mistake. The officers thought the third-grader may have been a juvenile suspect wanted for a pair of felony warrants, including one for gun possession, according to a statement from the Sacramento Police Department. Stewart was shocked.
“You guys wasted tax dollars using a chopper and multiple officers to close the freeway down for me and my 8 year old son,” she continued in the Facebook post. “I’m unsure what to do but I was scared for my baby.”
Sacramento Police acknowledged the mistake in a statement to NBC News. A spokesperson said the officers “observed a juvenile who they believed to be the wanted suspect” get into a vehicle with heavily tinted windows. They conducted a “high-risk stop” involving multiple police officers and the helicopter until they realized the boy in the vehicle wasn’t the suspect, according to the statement.
“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.”
Stewart told ABC News that the incident has traumatized Brandon. She said he’s afraid to drive on the highway now and is hyper aware of police presence. As for Stewart, she said she was afraid police would shoot her or her son.
“It was definitely heartbreaking. It’s something that is a life-changer.” Stewart told ABC News. “For us to not have done anything and for it to had went that far.”
The incident follows the March 2018 shooting of Stephon Clark, a Black man who Sacramento Police allegedly killed in his grandmother’s backyard. The shooting sparked protests and even more fury after federal authorities declined to pursue charges against the officers involved in Clark’s death.
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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com