SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego Police Department on Wednesday released body camera video of a traffic stop conducted this week to counter allegations posted on social media that the officer pointed his gun at an 8-year-old-boy.
The body camera video supports police statements that the allegations were false.
Cellphone video taken by a bystander at the traffic stop conducted Tuesday on Park Boulevard appeared to show an officer pointing his gun at the child after the boy’s father was taken into custody for failing to stop for police for a speeding violation.
The San Diego Police Department said the body-camera footage shows the officer didn't point his gun at the child; the boy’s father felt otherwise, according to the video. https://t.co/1FGVw0TF7T
— David Hernandez (@D4VIDHernandez) March 10, 2021
San Diego police attempted to conduct a traffic stop with the vehicle for traveling at 70 miles per hour, more than 30 mph above the speed limit. A motorcycle officer attempting to stop the vehicle called for backup when the driver refused to stop.
According to police, the vehicle stopped on Park Boulevard at Upas Street:
“The vehicle stopped at Park Boulevard and Upas Street and a high-risk vehicle stop was initiated.”
.@SanDiegoPD officer pointed gun at 8 year-old boy after traffic stop yesterday when dad failed to pull over. Officer kept gun drawn until boy was detained. Psychiatric clinician consoled visibly shaken child. Story w video from SanDiegoVille: https://t.co/iP2PrJQ6Km pic.twitter.com/ZPVpfHRWAj
— La Prensa San Diego (@LaPrensaSD) March 10, 2021
The cellphone video, originally posted on SanDiegoVille before hitting social media, was taken from an angle which made it appear the officer was pointing his firearm at the child while being removed from the car. The witness who took the video told the outlet:
“I witnessed the police officer on the motorcycle with his siren and lights on, but the vehicle was already pulled over. Both the driver’s side window and passenger side window were rolled down and the man and boy had their hands outside the window.
“As I walked by the vehicle, I noticed the little boy in the passenger side with his hands outside the window. I turned around and started recording. The officer was pointing the gun at the car (and) used his other hand to direct me to keep walking. I stopped recording and called my lawyer friend who confirmed I had every right to keep recording. So, I started recording again.”
It’s incredible that @SanDiegoPD released video within hours of incident as they argue officer did nothing wrong, but in most cases it takes months if ever, or lawsuit, to get video. Police videos should ALWAYS be public. Who pays for them? Taxpayers! https://t.co/c3VfYJJqyq
— La Prensa San Diego (@LaPrensaSD) March 11, 2021
The posted images from the video prompted complaints from citizens, and the group We Stand United SD scheduled a protest at the police department headquarters for that evening, and the group issued a statement on their Twitter account:
“San Diego, there is no excuse for SDPD to hold a(n) 8-year-old child at gunpoint during a traffic stop.”
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The San Diego Police Department responded by releasing the officer’s body camera video, which shows the officer did not point his gun at the child.
San Diego Police Public Affairs Lt. Shawn Takeuchi released a statement Wednesday:
“The body-worn camera footage is being released due to misinformation which is circulating on social media regarding this incident. We hope the release of this video will provide clarity as to what occurred.”
In a previous statement, the department said that “at no time” was the officer’s gun pointed at the child.
The officer’s body camera video shows that he pointed his firearm toward the driver as he was removed from the vehicle, as is standard procedure during what is known as a “felony stop.” After the driver was safely secured and in custody, the officer returned his aim toward the suspect’s vehicle.
Question for @D4VIDHernandez & @Alex_Riggins: How can you put your name to this after seeing the videos provided by both bystanders and the officer's own BWC?https://t.co/LjN6cDYgLR pic.twitter.com/aMi5wicQl6
— Michael Kelley (@mike_kelley) March 11, 2021
When the officers called the passenger to exit, the 8-year-old boy stepped out. At that point, the officer immediately moved his aim of the gun downward toward the road and to the side away from the child. Gradually, the officer moves his aim even further away as it becomes clear the passenger is a child and unarmed.
As the child walked towards police commands, the officer tells the child:
“Just come over to us, all right? You’re good, bud.”
Throughout the video of the incident, a male voice out of frame, possibly the father, kept telling officers to “take that gun off” the child and that the child was “8-years-old.”
SAN DIEGO THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR SDPD TO HOLD A 8 YR OLD CHILD AT GUNPOINT DURING A TRAFFIC STOP!🤬 pic.twitter.com/6ezEV5hEWB
— WeStandUnited_SD (@WeStandUnitedSD) March 11, 2021
In a statement made to SanDiegoVille by the unidentified driver following the incident, the man said:
“My son had to use the bathroom and my shop is right up the street from where I was stopped. I was just in Dad mode trying to get my kid to (the) bathroom before he peed himself. I’ve been stopped by the police for speeding before, but I’ve never been instructed out (of) my car at gunpoint. My kid was crying in the car saying ‘dad I don’t want to die. are they gonna shoot us?’
“At that point, I just told him it would be ok and to keep calm I just wanted him to feel safe in that moment but there was no way I could guarantee his safety. I just gave it all to God and did what I was instructed to do so me and my son (sic) could walk away alive. I asked the officer multiple times to lower his weapon because my child was freaking out and I didn’t want him to think that my son was reaching for something and he gets shot. It was pointed directly at him.”
The department is releasing BWC from a high-risk vehicle stop that took place yesterday. The BWC is being released due to misinformation which is circulating on social media regarding this incident. We hope the video provides clarity. https://t.co/s17odZU9BI
— San Diego Police Department (@SanDiegoPD) March 10, 2021
During the incident, another officer can be heard trying to keep the child calm:
“You know your dad was driving really, really fast. Did it feel like that to you? … You, you’re not in trouble, OK?”
The San Diego Police Department said the child was consoled by a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team clinician following the incident.
The driver was issued a misdemeanor citation for reckless driving, and his vehicle was impounded by police. San Diego Police said:
“The father and son left together after the citation was issued.”
Despite the department releasing the video showing the officers handled the situation with due care and consideration, local Democrats used the incident to attack police on social media.
Tasha Williamson, a former candidate for Mayor of San Diego, posted on her Twitter account:
“All within policy and procedure! Who is the chair of the police board changing this? Here is another one with the children pat down on a swatting call. The caller never tracked down and cited but kids traumatized (sc). Complaints will have no consequences.”
All within policy and procedure! Who is the chair of the police board changing this? Here is another one with the children pat down on a swatting call. The caller never tracked down and cited but kids traumatized. Complaints will have no consequences. https://t.co/z8DT3Fe0VA https://t.co/vcFP2dJRdi
— Tasha Williamson (@LoveForgivPeace) March 10, 2021
Eva Posner, a local Democratic political consultant, said the body camera supports the claim that the officer pointed the gun at the child:
“The gun is pointed at a child. Why is the gun even up? Why did it need to be raised anywhere in the direction of a child? The person who was considered a threat was in custody before the child got out of the car. This is stupid. You are lying.”
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