Lansing Police Say ‘Misunderstanding’ Led to Arrest of Black Boy Seen in Viral Video

Image via screengrab

By Karel Vega

August 11, 2023

Lansing police say similarities in outfits led to a Black boy being detained in a video that has now gone viral.

The Lansing Police Department says a “misunderstanding” led to the detaining of a 12-year-old Black boy in a video that has gone viral on social media.

In a four-minute-long video posted by TikTok user careyann327 Thursday, multiple police vehicles are seen pulling up to a parking lot where a young Black male in handcuffs is being detained by officers. The video’s caption reads: “Kid taking out trash being harassed by police. Father defending his son. Wrong person.”


Kid taking out trash being harassed by police. Father defending his son. Wrong person.

♬ original sound – Talkingtom24🐺

After about three minutes of what appears to be questioning from police, the boy is released and walks towards an adult, which the video indicates is his father. Appearing understandably frustrated, the adult argues with several officers until the video ends.

The video has been viewed millions of times since its posting, with users commenting on the unnecessary escalation from officers.

“This poor boys life changed forever that day. His perception of who he is in this world is damaged forever,” one user commented. While another user noted: “Hope he gets a damn good lawyer and gets justice.”

But on a post Friday to Facebook, The Lansing Police chalked it up to a misunderstanding stemming from the boy matching the description of a car theft suspect in the area.

“A witness described a suspect as wearing neon shorts and a white shirt. A responding officer saw a subject matching this description and attempted to make contact but the subject fled and ran west in to the nearby apartment complex,” the post reads. “A different officer was in the area and saw the young man pictured in the viral video wearing a very similar outfit and made contact with him. The initial officer was able to respond and clarify the young man in the video was not the suspect who fled earlier.”

The department also shared an image of the suspect and the boy, showing the similarities in their outfits.

This image shared by the Lansing Police Department Friday shows the similarities in outfits between a car theft suspect and a boy officers detained. (Photo via Lansing Police Department on Facebook)

“Our hope is we can put this unfortunate case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ behind us and continue to represent the community that we serve,” the post concluded.

So far, public response to LPD’s post is largely urging the department to issue a formal apology to the boy.


  • Karel Vega

    Coming from a long background in public radio, Karel Vega strives to find stories that inform and inspire local communities. Before joining The ‘Gander, Karel served as managing editor at WKAR, the NPR affiliate in East Lansing, Michigan.

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