Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul condemned a video of police officers apprehending a young boy for stealing a bag of chips Wednesday, calling the footage "heart wrenching."
Footage shared widely on social media shows a police officer holding an 8-year-old boy's arms behind his back as he takes him into a police vehicle. The video shows the boy in hysterics and passersby yelling at the police that they were overreacting about a bag of chips.
Police officers brought the boy, along with his two brothers, to their father's house later that day. The father, Anthony Weah, told Syracuse.com that the officers were professional and friendly when they arrived at the house and that none of the boys were harmed. Police did not press charges or require payment for the chips.
Weah was nonetheless shocked when he saw video of the incident.
"Why would the police treat that child like that?" Weah asked. "Over a $3 bag of chips."
Hochul brought up the video during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, saying the state's police need to do more to improve relationships with communities of color.
"There's a lot of pain out there, and we've all seen the video of an eight-year-old being detained by the police," she began. "I spoke with Mayor Walsh about this. And let me just say as a mother, that was a heart-wrenching video to witness. 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. I mean, we're all parents, many of us are parents, and you can't help but imagine the fear in that child as he had to endure that experience."
"Building the trust back between the community and the police is so important. It has to start. It is starting," she added.
Police say they are investigating the incident and examining the officers' body camera footage. The Syracuse Police Department (SPD) released a statement Wednesday clarifying that the boy was not placed in handcuffs or charged with a crime.
"We are aware of a video being shared on social media involving several of our officers and juveniles accused of stealing from a store," the SPD stated. "The incident, including the officers' actions and body-worn cameras are being reviewed."