SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Authorities in New York are reviewing an incident involving several police officers and a sobbing 8-year-old boy who was accused of stealing chips.
A bystander captured video footage of Syracuse police officers detaining the crying boy, who is Black, on a sidewalk. The video shows one cop holding the boy's arms and walking him to a police car and putting him in the back seat. The person capturing the video can be heard asking the officers what they are doing to the boy and also offering to pay for the chips.
The officer holding the boy snaps back, "Guess — take a guess what I'm doing," according to the video.
The bystander can be heard saying the boy looks too young to be treated that way. Another officer says the boy was caught stealing.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Syracuse Police Department said that some children were accused of stealing from a store in the city's Northside section. The department also said it was reviewing the incident and the officers' actions but wanted to clear up some "misinformation."
"The juvenile suspected of larceny was not placed in handcuffs. He was placed in the rear of a patrol unit where he was directly brought home," Syracuse PD said. "Officers met with a child’s father and no charges were filed."
The boy's father told Syracuse.com that the officers were friendly when they brought the boy home and didn't make him pay for the chips. But the father said he didn't see the video until later.
At an unrelated public event in Syracuse on Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul addressed the controversy, calling the video "heart-wrenching."
"A child weeping, being pulled by the police officers, putting them back of a police car, over a bag of potato chips. At least that's what the evidence says right now. That hits you right here," Hochul said. "Many of us are parents and you can't help but imagine the fear in that child as he had to endure that experience."
The governor said she and the mayor of Syracuse have discussed the need for "building the trust" between police and communities.
"It has to start — it is starting. And the realization that Black and brown communities all over our state and all of our country — they're not as shocked as others are to see this because they've been conditioned to different kinds of treatment from policing agencies and others throughout their lives," Hochul said. "And so that's a statement that we need to do more. We have more work to do."
In a statement, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the police officers for their "cruel and traumatic treatment" of the child.
"This is no way to treat a young child, and there is no excuse of the officers' conduct," CAIR-NY Legal Director Ahmed Mohamed said in the statement. "Simply put, this is state sanctioned child abuse. We know all too well that these officers would have treated the situation differently if they were interacting with a white child from a rich neighborhood."
This story was reported from the New York City area with Storyful.