A viral video came out of Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Jan. 19 after police officers conducting a felony vehicle stop were recorded by a passerby. In the video, a man comes out of the pickup truck with his hands up. As the officers are taking him into custody, a 2-year-old girl also exits the truck. She puts her hands up over her head and walks toward the officers. The person recording the video says, “They is holding a gun at the baby.”
The video went viral, with hundreds criticizing the officers for pointing their guns at a baby and making her walk out of the truck. But that’s not what happened.
To curtail the critics, the Tallahassee Police Department released body camera footage from the officers as well as details regarding the reason for the original vehicle stop.
Apparently, daddy was involved in a theft from a store and was seen by loss prevention officers to be in possession of a handgun in his waistband. The officers located the vehicle and made a felony stop. Both mother and father were ordered out of the vehicle. The little girl on her own decided to exit and imitated her parents.
#UPDATE TPD is providing an update to the press release regarding a small child being involved in a traffic stop. Body camera footage and a statement from Chief Michael DeLeo can be viewed. The original video by the citizen is first, then the video shows Chief DeLeo speaking about the incident. The body worn camera footage shows the officers' actions in the incident. The gun located in the vehicle was actually a pellet gun. “This video footage captures the compassion demonstrated by our TPD officers during an intense situation. I’m very proud of their actions and appreciative of the work these men and women do each day to keep our community safe,” Mayor John Dailey said. Original Press Release January 17,2019:On Thursday afternoon, January 17, 2019 around 4:30 p.m., Tallahassee Police officers were called to Bealls Outlet located 3240 Capital Circle Northeast in reference to a shoplifting. Information was received from the store regarding one of the suspects having what appeared to be a gun in their waistband. Based on this information, the Loss Prevention officers did not stop the suspects, but provided TPD officers with a description of the suspects and their vehicle. Officers arriving on scene were able to stop the suspects in the parking lot and detain the individuals inside the vehicle which was a blue pickup truck. Chad M. Bom and James W. McMullen were charged with the theft from Bealls Outlet.The Tallahassee Police Department was made aware of a video of the incident circulating on social media. TPD is currently reviewing the incident and the body worn camera video from the incident. Arrested:Chad M. Bom Age 34Charge:Petit Theft 2nd Degree pursuant to Florida Statute 812.014(3)(a).Arrested:James W. McMullen Age 38Charge:Petit Theft 2nd Degree pursuant to Florida Statute 812.014(3)(a).
Posted by City of Tallahassee Police Department on Friday, January 18, 2019
The body camera footage shows officers treating the child with care and compassion, even allowing the uncuffed mother to pick up the child. In the vehicle was another 1-year-old.
The gun was located and found to be a replica. The child getting out of the truck with her hands up is both cute and heartbreaking. She is simply imitating what she saw her parents do. According to the Tallahassee PD, the father was charged with theft and the children were released to the custody of their mother.
It’s easy to make a snap judgment before all the facts are known. Kudos to the Tallahassee Police Department for being proactive at quickly getting the correct information out.
Joe is a retired police captain. You can reach him at email@example.com