Durham police release body camera footage of wrongful detainment of 15-year-old in August

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Durham police release body cam video of wrongful detainment of teen
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"I was playing tag and next thing I know, y'all just come start trying to arrest me," the teen can be heard saying.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Police Department released more than an hour of body and dash camera footage of the day when a 15-year-old playing tag with friends was wrongfully detained outside of a Durham apartment complex.

It happened in August. Jaylin Harris, 15, was playing in his front yard when he said officers approached him with guns drawn and put him in handcuffs. Durham Police Chief CJ Davis said they had received a report of a suspicious person with a gun, and believed Harris to be the suspect.

WATCH: Durham 15-year-old recalls being handcuffed by DPD

In the first of nine videos uploaded to the Durham Police Department YouTube page, an officer runs from his vehicle and shouts "Get on the ground!" while pointing his weapon. Multiple people in the area scream as officers tell them to relax.

A woman then runs up shouting, "He's 8! He's a baby!" The officer behind the body camera repeatedly tells her to calm down.

She then points at Harris multiple times, saying, "That's my baby, that's my child," and asks the officer to take the handcuffs off of him while a young child cries in her arms.

The officer tells her they received a call of a man with a gun in the area, to which she responds, "He's a child!"

The officer replies, "Children carry guns."

As another woman approaches, the first woman says she was watching the kids. The officer says, "Once we have this sorted out, he'll probably be out of cuffs and can go on about his business."

The second woman told the teen not to answer more questions until his mom arrives, then tells the officer that she usually watches the boys, but they hadn't come by her house that day. She then tells the officer that the boys usually play in the grassy area in front of his apartment.

At this point, the officers take the handcuffs off of Harris and ask him a few questions, including whether he understood why they had detained him.

"I was playing tag and next thing I know, y'all just come start trying to arrest me," the teen can be heard saying.

The officer behind the body camera then alleges that when officers arrived, Harris started to run away.

"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.

In another video, Harris' mother has an exchange with another 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," the mother says.

"I understand why you're upset," the officer responds.

"Yeah, because y'all had my son on the (expletive) ground with a gun in his face," the mother says.

After a long exchange, the officer tells Harris' mother that his son wouldn't run from a police officer.

"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 he does--I hope your kid does."

During a march after the incident, the mother of another child involved said she was shocked by how nonchalant the officers were.

"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," said Makeba Hoffler in August. "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."