If this past weekend has taught us anything, it’s to look out for viral videos. Several incidents showed selective views of what transpired, painting a group as bad actors when the reality is something completely different.
One such example was a video of Tallahassee police supposedly pointing a gun at a toddler who was approaching with her hands up.
The video, taken from a distance away, is narrated by two women who were watching the incident take place. Their commentary of what they were seeing outraged many as the two women apparently believed the police were pointing guns at a toddler.
However, Tallahassee officials have released body camera footage that shows a very different side of the story. The video starts with the original but then switches to body cam footage.
#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
In the video, we can see the police are doing nothing of the sort.
Chief Michael DeLeo, however, said his officers’ body came footage shows a different perspective of the same incident, explaining that the truck was stopped because of a report of a theft by an armed suspect at a nearby store.
A Loss Prevention officer from the store reported that one of the suspects had a gun in his waistband, and provided the suspects’ description and vehicle to police.
“They stopped the vehicle and were following their training as they had the suspected armed adults step out of the truck, when unexpectedly a 2-year-old girl climbed out of the truck and imitated her parents by walking to the officers with her hands raised,” DeLeo said.
Chad Bom, 34, and James McMullen, 38, were charged with second degree theft.
As you can see from the video, the police aren’t being jackwagons to a toddler who probably didn’t even realize what was going on. Instead, they’re soft-spoken and kind to the little girl. After all, she’d done nothing wrong, even if her daddy had reportedly stolen something while armed. There was no threat, no reason.
So what happened?
Well, here I have to get into speculation, but I guess that anti-cop rhetoric led the witnesses to view what they were watching from the worst perspective possible, especially when coupled by what looked like a less-than-clear view of what was happening.
Luckily, the officers were wearing body cams.
When the topic of body cams first came up, I heard a lot of police officers express concerns about the devices, but you know what I’ve seen since their use became widespread? I’ve seen a lot of officers vindicated of wrongdoing because of them. They routinely show officers being innocent of accusations ranging from rape to police brutality.
In this case, the bodycam also shows the police pointedly not treating a two-year-old girl like a criminal. I honestly think they reacted in a far more restrained manner than I would have under the circumstances.
Oh, and for the record, the weapon turned out to be a pellet gun. However, and I think most here understand this, you don’t get to assume it’s a pellet gun until after the fact.
These officers did an outstanding job on this, and the last thing they deserve is to be vilified over it.