TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Video that went viral on social media showed a barefoot toddler, who got out of a vehicle and walked toward police officers with her hands up. It looked as though she was standing in the street without anyone trying to help her, but more video from a Florida police officer’s body camera tells a very different story.
Tallahassee officers responding to a reported theft by an armed man on Thursday, Jan. 17 pulled over a suspect’s truck, police said. Among those inside were two small children, a 2-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy.
As officers arrested a suspect, who said in the video he was the children’s father, the girl got out of the truck and walked toward police with her hands up.
In the video of the traffic stop recorded by a passerby, someone said: “She’s trying to get out. Oh, my God! She’s trying to get out, but she can’t because she’s little,” and “Ooh, she’s holding her hands up.”
Police were seen aiming their guns at the vehicle as the little girl stopped near an officer.
‘A different perspective’
After the video went viral, police released the body camera footage.
“The officers stopped the vehicle and were following their training, as they had the suspected armed adults step out of the truck, when, unexpectedly, a 2-year-old girl climbed out of the truck and imitated her parents by walking towards the officers with her hands raised,” said Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo in a video posted on Facebook.
In the body camera footage, an officer comforted the child, saying: “You’re OK. Come over here sweetie. You’re OK,” and “Sweetie, put your hands down. You’re fine.”
Inside the truck, the 1-year-old was found still strapped into his car seat.
“A weapon is found in the backseat. Although the gun looks real, it’s actually a pellet gun,” DeLeo said.
Two men were arrested and later charged with theft, according to police. The officers allowed their mother to take care of the children.
“This incident demonstrates the value of body worn cameras providing a different perspective of the same incident,” DeLeo said.