A bystander video that shows Syracuse, New York, police detaining a sobbing 8-year-old boy has prompted an internal investigation, officials said.
The video, which garnered 5 million views as of Wednesday morning, shows an officer who is behind the boy and restraining him by both arms while the child is crying.
NBC News does not know what occurred before a bystander began recording.
The one-minute clip begins with a man off-camera asking the officer holding the boy what police are doing before commenting that the child “looks like a baby to me.”
Another officer appears and tells the man: “He’s stealing stuff. If he breaks into your house and steals something.” His voice then becomes inaudible.
“Y’all treat him like a hardcore, blooded f— killer,” the man replies.
The officer says: “Keep walking dude. You don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
The camera then pans to a police vehicle where the boy was placed.
A second voice can be heard.
“That’s crazy,” the person says. “How old is he? 10 years old?”
Syracuse police in a statement Tuesday said the child was never placed into handcuffs and body camera footage was being reviewed.
“We (SPD) are aware of a video being shared on social media involving several of our Officers and juveniles accused of stealing from a store on the City’s northside. The incident, including the Officers’ actions and body-worn cameras, are being reviewed,” the statement said. “There is some misinformation involving this case. The juvenile suspected of larceny was not placed in handcuffs. He was placed in the rear of a patrol unit where he was directly brought home. Officers met with the child’s father and no charges were filed.”
Syracuse police did not respond to a request for additional comment on the incident, including when it occurred. Instead, a department representative provided a statement from Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.
Walsh said what occurred demonstrates the continued need to support children and families while investing in alternative responses “to assist our officers.”
“When the online video was first shared with me on Monday, I was concerned. I asked Chief Buckner and the SPD to review all body worn camera footage, which is ongoing,” the mayor said.
“Officers were responding to a call for a larceny that had just occurred at a nearby business. Based on what I have seen, the body camera footage demonstrates no handcuffs were used by officers at any time. The child was placed in the back of a patrol car and taken home to his family. The officer knew the child from prior interactions and explained to him that he was being taken home. The officers returned the child to his family and discussed the incident with his father before leaving without filing any charges.”
NBC affiliate WSTM of Syracuse reported the boy in the video is 8 years old. The news station also spoke to the bystander who said he shot the video.
“I felt his terror and decided to intervene,” the bystander, Kenneth Jackson, said. Police did not handle the matter correctly, according to Jackson.
“There’s a way that the police need to interact with kids, and what they did that day was completely unacceptable,” he said.
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