Mother of 10-year-old handcuffed by police officers speaks out: 'I just had to cry'

A 10-year-old boy ultimately wasn’t arrested when DC officers realized his age. (Photo: NBC Washington)

Video of Washington, D.C. police officers handcuffing a 10-year-old boy and putting him in the back of a police car sparked outrage across the nation. The D.C. attorney general later announced that the child was “totally innocent” and wouldn’t be charged, but his mother said he was traumatized by the experience nonetheless.

The child, who wasn’t identified by police because of his age, was handcuffed on March 30 after a 12-year-old boy was robbed at gunpoint, according to Attorney General Karl Racine’s news release. Bystanders can be heard in the video questioning why the child is being taken into custody.

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“We owe it to the young victim of this crime to hold the people who hurt him accountable. We also owe it to the 10-year-old who was incorrectly identified as an armed robber to set the record straight,” Racine said in the news release. “I am speaking to you today to publicly exonerate this young person and to stress the importance of the laws which protect the confidentiality of all of the young people involved in our justice system — both victims and offenders.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement to NBC Washington that officers realized the boy’s age after the identification process and Youth and Family Services was notified. 

“After consideration, it was determined the ten-year-old would not be summarily arrested on the scene and that a custody order would be applied for by the investigating detective,” the statement said.

A 13-year-old suspect was arrested, per The Washington Post.


The 10-year-old boy was released into his mother’s custody, and she told NBC Washington how difficult it was to see her son handcuffed.

“I just had to cry. It just hurt my feelings so bad to see my son put in handcuffs at the age of 10,” Chaquitta Williams, the boy’s mother, said. She said he couldn’t sleep after the incident because “his mind was just so rumbling.”

People on social media also denounced the police’s behavior and urged the boy’s family to sue.


How traumatic for this little boy and our community? DC might as well get the check ready,” one person commented. “And, in the meantime, produce better policies for law enforcement handling children when suspected of ‘criminal’ behavior. I can only imagine how afraid he must have been. Blacks are human!”

“How about we handcuff adults who handcuff children?” another said.

The ACLU called out a similar case last year involving a 10-year-old boy in Chicago, calling the police’s conduct “disgusting.”


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