On Aug 21 NC police officers pointed guns at 15-year-old Jaylin Harris whom they arrested as he was playing tag outside with his young friends
Bodycam video released by Durham PD shows the cops with their guns drawn, handcuff the 15-year-old black boy in front of his mom
Officers said they were responding to apt complex after a report of a black man with a gun matching the teen’s description
Harris was forced to the ground and placed in handcuffs, despite his protestations that he was playing tag and had done nothing wrong
A nine-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy witnessed Harris’ getting detained
Officers eventually left without arresting any of the children, including the teen who was wrongfully detained
Harris said he feared for his life and is seeking therapy following the traumatic encounter
Police in North Carolina have released body camera video showing officers wrongfully detaining a 15-year-old black boy at gunpoint and putting him in handcuffs while he was playing tag with friends at their apartment complex in August.
Video from the Durham Police Department shows officers respond to the Rochelle Manor Apartments complex on August 21 after receiving reports about a black man in a white tank top armed with a gun.
At the time of the officers’ arrival, Jaylin Harris, 15, who was dressed in a white top, was playing tag with Zakarryya Cornelius, aged nine, and an 11-year-old boy in the front yard.
Bodycam video released by the Durham Police Department this week shows the moment police pointed guns at a 15-year-old boy playing tag in August.
The 15-year-old was detained and had his hands restrained behind his back with handcuffs.
In the footage, an officer observes Jaylin Harris run, draws his gun and yells at the child to get on the ground.
The teenager complies, telling the officer pointing a gun at him as he lays down on his stomach with his arms outstretched: ‘I swear to God, I didn’t do s***.’
One of the teen’s younger friends is seen cowering and sobbing on a nearby stoop.
The officer then restrains Harris’ hands behind his back with handcuffs and pats him down to make sure he does not have any drugs or weapons on him.
As neighbors are heard frantically shouting in the background that the boy is only 15 and had done nothing wrong, the cop proceeds to question Harris about why he was running away.
Harris explains that he was playing tag outside his home with younger friends when police officers with guns drawn arrived
Another officer explains to Harris that someone called about a man matching his description who was selling drugs in the area, and then the teen was seen running away from the police.
As the situation unfolds, a distraught woman runs out screaming ‘that’s my baby’ and scoops up her two sobbing children in her arms. She then asks an officer to uncuff Harris, whom she said she had been watching, pointing out to him that ‘he’s a child.’
The cop shoots back, ‘Children carry guns.’ He then seeks to reassure the woman that Harris does not appear to be in any trouble.
‘Once we have this sorted out, he’ll probably be out of cuffs and can go on about his business,’ he says.
Another woman approaches Harris, who is still sitting on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back, and instructs him to not answer any more questions until his mom gets there.
At this point, police remove the handcuffs from Harris, and one of the officers asks him whether he understood why he had been detained.
‘I was playing tag and next thing I know, y’all just come start trying to arrest me,’ Harris replies.
The cop explains that someone called about a suspect in a white tank top with a gun, and officers who responded saw Harris running away from them.
‘So from a reasonable person–I think you’re smart enough to understand that–somebody called the police, it’s our job to make sure everybody’s safe,’ the officer says.
Harris brings up the fact that officers surrounded him with guns drawn in the presence of two small children, but the cop does not address his concern, instead offering the teen ‘advice for the rest of your life.’
‘If a police officer thinks that somebody has a gun and that person runs from them… they gotta make sure that person doesn’t have a gun on them before they do anything else,’ he tells Harris. ‘If you just stayed there, [said] “Hey, what’s up, guys,” everything’s good. But you ran around the corner.’
The officer added: ‘Don’t ever run from the police.’
One of the women at the apartment complex points out that Harris is just big for his age and ‘fits the description of every black male.’
Later in the video, the officer has a heated exchange with Harris’ mother, who dismisses his explanations about the suspect in the white tank top and her son’s decision to run.
‘He’s a kid and that what kids do,’ the woman tells the officer. ‘He don’t know y’all! Y’all roll up on him and he don’t know what’s going on with y’all.
‘I understand why you’re upset,’ the officer responds.
‘Yeah, because y’all had my son on the f***ing ground with a gun in his face,’ the mother says, adding, ‘Ya’ll f***ing killing people.’
The woman then asks the officer to imagine that it was his son in a similar situation, but the officer rejects that premise out of hand, saying that his son knows not to run from the police.
‘I tell my son not to run too, but at the same time apparently he was scared of y’all and you can’t say what your son is going to do,’ the mother replies. ‘But I hope that you get the experience the way my son got the experience, with the fact that he had a gun pointed at him. I hope… your kid does.’
After some more back-and-forth with the officer, who shares with her that he grew up in the projects, the mother tells him: ‘Ya’ll got to realize that what you’re doing [is] scarring the f*** out of these people to the point where they act in a bad way.’
None of the children were arrested or charged.
In an interview with WRAL.com a week after the incident, nine-year-old Zakarryya said he was terrified.
‘Every time I see them [officers], I feel like I got to get on the ground,’ he said.
Harris told the station how he feared for his life and was seeking therapy following the incident.
‘Every time I go outside or something, I got to turn around or look over my shoulder,’ he said. ‘Is there police over there, or am I going to have to do the same thing over again?’
Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis [right], said in a statement in August: ‘Durham officers responded to this location several times earlier in the day for weapons related calls.’
‘The Durham Police Department remains fully committed to working with the residents of Rochelle Manor Apartments, as well as our entire community, in maintaining safety.’
She said: ‘We are equally sensitive of the need to promote trust and positive interactions between our officers and children.
‘We remain steadfast in our desire to continue to have these important conversations so that we can ensure all members of our community receive the service they expect and deserve.’
The boys’ families slammed the force saying a meeting with the department to resolve the situation ended in disappointment when officials would not apologize.
‘Their attitude was so nonchalant. It didn’t matter to them. They didn’t see their kid on the floor. Just another Black young boy… boys,’ Makeba Hoffler, Zakarryya’s mother, told ABC11.
“They don’t understand the trauma that they inflicted on these kids just in that second. And they need to fix it. And they need to do it quick,” Hoffler, said.