In a recent traffic stop that has raised concerns about police actions and the potential for racial profiling, a pregnant mom and her 8-year-old son were pulled over at gunpoint, apparently due to a case of mistaken identity.
Shanice Stewart, who is currently nine months pregnant, was driving her son, Brandon, to football practice on October 17th when the incident occurred.
According to a report by People, the Sacramento Police Department has stated that officers believed they had spotted a juvenile suspect getting into a vehicle with heavily tinted windows, which matched the description of the wanted suspect.
The situation escalated quickly as the police initiated a high-risk stop, and more officers along with a helicopter responded to the scene, causing a temporary halt in traffic. Stewart complied with the officers’ instructions, tossing her car keys out the window, opening the door with her left hand, and exiting the vehicle with her hands in the air.
During an interview with ABC News, Stewart expressed her fear for her son’s safety, explaining that she was scared he might get shot. She emphasized the unpredictability of the situation, particularly when multiple officers had their guns drawn toward her car.
Although she instructed her son to remain inside the car, Brandon chose to exit the vehicle and pleaded with the officers not to take his mother away. He followed their instructions by exiting the car with his hands up and his back turned towards the officers.
As the stop progressed and the car windows were rolled down, the officers eventually realized that the juvenile in the vehicle was not the suspect they were seeking. According to Stewart, the police had told her that her son matched the description of a suspect they had been observing for two years, with Brandon being identified by a helicopter team flying above their apartment complex.
Stewart expressed her disbelief at this revelation, stating, “Really? My 8-year-old baby fits the description of the suspect you’re looking for?”
The next day, the police informed her that the actual suspect they were pursuing was a teenager, according to ABC News.
The Sacramento Police Department acknowledged the error in a statement obtained by PEOPLE and stated that an investigation into the incident is “under review.” They further explained that their officers provided an explanation and an apology to the mother and her son on the scene and have maintained contact with them and community leaders since the incident.
However, the impact of this encounter has been significant. Brandon is now reportedly terrified to travel on the highway and becomes apprehensive when he sees a law enforcement officer. Shanice Stewart is actively seeking a therapist for her son, who has been unable to discuss the incident. She also intends to file a complaint against the department.