Police in Syracuse, New York, released body camera footage Thursday they say shows a "more well-rounded story with a positive outcome" than the viral bystander video of officers putting a crying 8-year-old boy into a police vehicle for allegedly stealing a bag of chips.
Officers responded to a larceny in progress call at a Dollar General on the city's northside Sunday afternoon, police said at a press conference Thursday. The store's clerk said several juveniles had stolen multiple bags of Doritos.
Police played portions of body worn camera footage from the three officers at the scene. In one clip, an officer approaches the group of children and demands one child get off his bike before placing the crying boy into a police car and taking him home.
The video provides an alternate angle of the interaction seen in bystander video that has amassed more than 5 million views on social media since it was taken. One officer can be seen restraining the boy by both arms before placing him in the vehicle as police tell bystanders off-camera who are questioning their actions that the boy was caught stealing.
"Some of that video is hard to watch," First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile said. "It's visceral to all of us."
But Cecile said the footage of officers talking with the child's father at their home is an example of "community policing 101," which some might call "uplifting."
"That's what they do. Every day they go to stores and steal stuff," an officer tells the boy's father in the 10-minute clip. "They're going to start doing more and more criminal things."
Police emphasized that the officers involved knew the boy, no charges were filed against him, and he was not placed in handcuffs or arrested. In New York state, children must be at least 12 years old to be arrested and prosecuted.
Syracuse police and Mayor Ben Walsh said the department is investigating the officers' actions and all the available footage of the incident.
Walsh, who asked police to review the bodycam footage, said although things could have gone better, ultimately the situation had a "good outcome."
"We need to resist blaming – whether it's the family, the officers – we need to focus on learning from this," he said.
Walsh also noted that the child is Black and the officers are white, which he said likely contributed to the community's "visceral reaction."
“That is a relationship that has been strained for a very long time not just in Syracuse, across the country," he said. "There’s no doubt that there is trauma there and that that experience will influence how that child views law enforcement."
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The boy's father, Anthony Weah, told the Post-Standard after seeing the video that he wants to file a complaint against the officers.
“Why would the police treat that child like that?” Weah said. “Over a $3 bag of chips.”
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He told the outlet he was grateful for Kenneth Jackson, who recorded the incident. Jackson told WSTM he felt police mishandled the situation.
“I felt his terror and decided to intervene,” he said. "There’s a way that the police need to interact with kids, and what they did that day was completely unacceptable."
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the video "heart wrenching" during a COVID-19 briefing in the city.
"I know that the mayor is working closely with the police department to get to the bottom of everything, but also make sure we do protect our children, that they're handled in a different way when it comes to encounters with law enforcement," she said.
Contact Breaking News Reporter N'dea Yancey-Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @NdeaYanceyBragg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Syracuse, New York, police detain crying 8-year-old boy in viral video