An 11-year-old boy was handcuffed and held at gunpoint in Vellejo, Calif. after he tried to warn a neighbor that someone had broken into her car.
“I was trying to do a good deed,” 6th-grader Romie Mims told KTVU.
Mims was walking to school on Thursday morning when he noticed a car on the street with its windows shattered. He knocked on the homeowner’s door to give them a heads-up about the crime.
But as he was doing so, unbeknownst to him, the homeowner was calling the police.
A few minutes later, Mims found himself surrounded by cops on the sidewalk. The cops drew their guns and yelled at Mims to put his hands up.
The officers told him to get down.
“They said, ‘If you move we will shoot you’,” he added. “I started crying. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do.”
After handcuffing and searching Mims, the cops realized they were facing a case of mistaken identity. One drove Mims to school.
Vallejo Police Lt. Kevin Bartlett said that the police had received a call from the homeowner reporting shots had been fired in front of her house, and that an African-American woman with a hoodie had been waving a gun. The homeowner had previously had her car vandalized by an African-American woman who had fired on her house, and she feared that the woman was back to hurt her. She—and the police— evidently mistook Mims for that woman.
“We’re sorry at the police department that it happened,” Bartlett said. “I talked to the mom. Of course she’s upset and I don’t blame her for being upset. It’s part of stuff we have to deal with in Vallejo and unfortunately he got caught in the middle of it.”
Mims mother, Tonya Evans, expressed her outrage that police hadn’t told her about the incident. She had to hear about it from her son when he came home from school.
“This is my only child and for him to be treated like that is unacceptable,” Evans said. “It could have all went a different way and I thank God it didn’t happen like that. The way it happened I can’t change that, but I don’t want it to happen to anyone else’s child ever again.”
Police insist that Mims was not targeted because of his race, but because the 911 call from the homeowner indicated a serious threat.