*A 10-year-old African American boy in Newark, NJ was mistakenly chased by police who believed he was a robbery suspect. According to reports, their weapons were drawn, and it took the intervention of neighbors to ensure that the chase ended before any shots might be fired.
Fifth-grader Legend Preston told WABC-TV he was playing basketball in his front yard when the ball rolled into the street. When he went to retrieve it, he was swarmed by officers, weapons drawn, who began to pursue him.
Preston said he thought the cops were mad at him over the ball rolling into the street.
“I ran because [I thought that] they thought that I rolled the ball into the street on purpose, and they were just holding shotguns at me trying to shoot me,” he told the station.
Neighbors saw the chase and prevented the cops from pursuing the 10-year-old further, yelling to them that Preston is “a child.” According to the New York Daily News, the neighbors formed a “human shield” to prevent the cops from perhaps taking more life-threatening measures.
Legend’s mother—who was inside the house during the incident—says the cops told her that Preston “matched the description” of their suspect.
“The [Newark PD] chased down my 10-year-old son with loaded shotguns ready to shoot because they said he matched the description of the over 6-foot-tall man, dark skin with long locs… which my son is none of,” Legend’s mother, Patisha Solomon, wrote on Facebook. “They had pictures of the perp who was in eyesight running down the next block!!! Yet they broke off from chasing the perp to chasing my child.”
The actual suspect, Casey Joseph Robinson, 20 —was later arrested on armed robbery charges.
“Why try to abuse our children and turn our young men into fearful heartless men? My son is in counseling, even scared to go play because it happened right at our house… You despicable cops have no care for our children… My fun-loving child is forever changed!” Patisha said in her Facebook post.