TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Tallahassee Police Department has responded to an alarming video that was posted online.
“He’s holding a gun at the baby,” yells one woman.
“They’re telling the baby to turn around,” exclaims another.
Two passersby recorded cell phone video as a toddler was seemingly caught in the middle of a tense traffic stop Thursday afternoon.
“That part was alarming to see the child appear to walk up by herself. That was a little scary and surprising to see,” said Natalie Webster after viewing the footage.
The video shows a 2-year-old girl exiting a truck with her hands up as police have their weapons trained on the vehicle. That prompted the Tallahassee Police Department to respond with a video of their own.
Chief Michael DeLeo released several excerpts from officer body cameras.
“I believe that incidents like this justify our investment in body-worn cameras and the importance of getting all the facts,” he said in a video released on the department’s official Facebook page. (See below)
In a news release provided after the incident, the department said officers had responded to reports of a theft by an armed suspect at the Bealls shopping outlet around 4:30 p.m. Thursday. They then pulled over the truck and were surprised when the toddler got out and began to mimic her parents.
“It’s okay sweetie. You don’t have to put your hands up,” one officer can be overheard saying in the body camera footage.
The police footage also showed a pellet gun was found in the back seat of the truck next to a second child, a 1-year-old boy, who was still strapped in a car seat.
Chief DeLeo said he reviewed footage from 10 different cameras and was “proud” of his officers’ response, adding he felt they showed compassion for the family.
Chad M. Bom, 34, and 38-year-old James W. McMullen were charged with petit theft. There is no information on how they were related to the children.
According to the police footage, the mother of the children appeared to have also been at the scene and was described as a “suspect” by DeLeo.