DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – On Tuesday, the City of Durham released body camera and surveillance video of an encounter between police and a group of juveniles playing tag at Rochelle Manor Apartments on Aug. 21.
The video shows officers pulling guns on 15-year-old Jaylin Harris. They said he matched the description of an individual carrying a gun in the area.
The city released multiple videos that show officers pointing guns at Harris and ordering him to get down on the ground.
Harris complied and an officer placed him in handcuffs.
“I didn’t do anything. I swear to God,” Harris said as an officer handcuffed him.
In the video, officers can be heard explaining to families on the scene that Harris matched the description of a suspect in the area who was wearing a white tank top and carrying a gun.
Makeba Hoffler said her son Zakarayya was playing tag with Harris when officers got there.
In the video, Hoffler questioned why Harris was place in handcuffs.
“Someone called and said someone had a gun out here with a wife beater on,” an officer said in the video.
“He’s a child,” Hoffler said.
“Children carry guns,” the officer said to Hoffler.
Officers on the video said that they saw Harris running when they approached him. That’s when they drew their guns and ordered him on the ground.
“Somebody called the police and its our job to make sure everyone is safe,” the officer said. “If a police officer thinks that person has a gun and that person runs from them, they have to make sure that that person doesn’t have a gun on them before they do anything else.”
Ashley Harris, Jaylin Harris’ mother, saw the full video for the first time on Tuesday.
“I felt sick to my stomach and it brought tears to my eyes,” she said.
Harris said it was important to her that the public see what happened.
“You don’t want to see your son subject to something like that and criminalized for something that he didn’t do and questioned about something that he has no knowledge of,” Ashley Harris said.
“I can see why it upsets people, but I can also see that that is policing and policing isn’t pretty,” added Daniel Meier, who is the attorney representing the police officers.
He said the video shows officers reacting in a way you would expect them to respond if a suspicious person in the area had a gun.
“If they are really outraged by this, they need to ask, ‘How should police have responded to this incident?'” Meier said.
City officials said one officer involved in this incident was suspended without pay for one day but no other officers were disciplined.
The mothers of the children involved in this incident are considering filing formal complaints against the Durham Police Department.
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