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.
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.