A police department in a suburb north of Dallas pulled over a Black family visiting from Little Rock, Arkansas, incorrectly believing that they were in a stolen car, according to harrowing body camera footage released Saturday.
On July 23, a Frisco police officer identified as V. McQueen in the body camera footage incorrectly entered the license plate of the family’s black Dodge Charger, which police began tracking as it left a hotel parking lot.
The car drew their attention, the Frisco Police Department said, because it had out-of-state plates and because Chargers were high-theft vehicles, according to WFAA-TV in Dallas. That led to what the police described as a “high-risk traffic stop” on the Dallas North Tollway.
Though no one was physically hurt, the bodycam footage captured emotional moments as the family faced a life-threatening, “traumatizing” confrontation.
With guns drawn, the police first ordered the driver, a 28-year-old woman who identified herself as a nurse, to get out of the vehicle.
“What did I do?” she asked Officer McQueen while crying. “I’ve never been in trouble a day in my life. This is scaring the hell out of me.”
There were three other people in the car: her husband, her son and her nephew. Their names were not publicly released. The two boys were 12 and 13 years old, NBC News reported.
The family also had a registered concealed handgun locked in the glove compartment, the woman and her husband told police.
After ordering the driver out of the car, police ordered her son out next. The officers had their guns pointed at the car as well as at the woman and one of the children as they were forced to get out of the car and walk toward the police and face backward with their hands in the air.
Soon after, they placed the son in handcuffs and into one of the police vehicles while the woman talked to McQueen.
“Is he in cuffs? Please don’t let them do nothing to my baby. This is very traumatizing,” the driver pleaded.
From inside the car, the man was heard pleading with police officers.
“Listen, bro, we just here for a basketball tournament,” he said. “Don’t do this to my son, bro.”
He identified himself as a basketball coach for a team his nephew and son played on.
Partially through the stop, McQueen realized she made an error, accidentally running the license plate of the car as one from Arizona (AZ) rather than Arkansas (AR). At that point, the officers stopped aiming their guns at the family. McQueen then admitted the error to the family while the other police officers were gathered around. McQueen and some of the officers can be heard apologizing.
“This is all my fault. I apologize for this. I know it was very traumatic for you and your nephew and your son. And like I said, it’s on me. There are consequences that come with that,” McQueen told the woman.
One officer is even seen trying to comfort one of the boys — putting his arm around him after the incident.
“No one ever gets hurt when they cooperate,” another officer said in the video.
The husband then became emotional.
“It could’ve went all wrong for us, though,” he can be heard saying. “If I would’ve went to reach for my phone, we could’ve all got killed.”
In a July 28 press release, the police department acknowledged the mistake and said they’d investigate the incident.
“We made a mistake,” Frisco Police Chief David Shilson said in the news release. “Our department will not hide from its mistakes. Instead, we will learn from them.”
“I empathize with them and completely understand why they’re upset. I apologized on behalf of our department and assured them that we will hold ourselves accountable and provide transparency through the process. This incident does not reflect the high standard of service that our officers provide on a daily basis to our residents, businesses and visitors,” Shilson said.
The Frisco Police Department declined HuffPost’s request for comment.