SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — Ben Walsh, the mayor of Syracuse, New York, and the Syracuse Police Department, hosted a press conference on Thursday morning to show and discuss the body-worn camera footage from a circulating viral video of police handling an 8-year-old.
The viral video, which circulated on Twitter and Facebook earlier this week, showed Syracuse police holding the crying boy’s arms and walking him to a police car. An onlooker was heard pressing police about their treatment of the child, likening it to the treatment of a “coldblooded f—ing killer.”
Audio from the video suggested the boy was accused of stealing a bag of chips.
In response to the viral clip, the Syracuse Police Department said the incident was under review but claimed there was “some misinformation” surrounding the case.
At Thursday’s press conference, members of the media and the community were shown portions of body-camera footage taken by the responding officers. Syracuse Police Department First Deputy Chief Joseph Cecile said the footage gave a more accurate picture of the incident.
The footage shown on Thursday included a video of the child being detained by police, as well as a video of the boy crying out in the back of the police car. Another clip showed officers talking to the child’s family after he returned home, explaining that the boy and others were accused of stealing snacks and drinks from stores.
Cecile added that the officers took the time to engage with the family, calling it an example of “community policing 101 … what every citizen is asking of their police officers.” However, the police “would prefer to not be in these positions at all.”
“Everyone would love to have positive interactions with children. But oftentimes, we are the only ones around and the only ones responding when these incidents happen,” said the first deputy.
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh later claimed that everyone in the community was frustrated — police, store owners, neighbors, and family — by the incident. But Walsh said they should resist the temptation to issue blame immediately. “We want these positive interactions,” said Walsh.
The entire press conference can be viewed at the top of this page.