With guns drawn, police chased down a 10-year-old boy they apparently mistook for an armed robbery suspect — and then told his mother to fill out a report if she “had something to say about it.”
“They tried to shoot me,” Legend Preston said softly through tears as his mother, Patisha filmed afterward.
“Who tried to shoot you?” she asked gently.
Although Legend might easily be mistaken for an older child, the suspect Newark police were searching for was twice as old— and where Legend's hair is closely cropped, the suspect sports braids that fall below his collarbone.
“Some police started coming this way with guns pointed at me, and then I ran into the backyard,” Legend recalled.
The 10-year-old had been playing basketball at a neighborhood court when the ball escaped into the street. Evidencing how terrifying the incident was for an innocent child, Legend says he thought the cops were chasing him with guns drawn because he ran into the street to grab the ball.
“I ran because they thought that I rolled the ball into the street on purpose, and they were just holding shotguns at me trying to shoot me,” he explained.
In Patisha’s heart-wrenching video posted to Facebook, the obviously terrified and shy Legend cries silently while appearing to try to make sense of what happened.
According to reports, Newark Police had been pursuing an armed robbery suspect, but somehow lost sight of him and chased the 10-year-old into an alley behind his home in a case of mistaken identity.
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Neighbors explained they intervened and formed a protective human shield around Legend to prevent a possible catastrophe.
“This is a child!” they screamed, according to the New York Daily News.
“He matches the description,” cops retorted, according to Patisha.
Jackie Kelly, who witnessed the incident, said she told the errant cops, “He’s only 10 years old, how you all chasing him? He’s only a kid. I’m like, ‘that’s messed up.’”
In a corresponding Facebook post, Legend’s infuriated mother wrote:
“They chased down my 10-year-old son with loaded shotguns ready to shoot because they said he matched the description of the over 6 foot tall man, dark skin with long locs … which my son is none of.”
Even a cursory comparison of images of the actual suspect — Casey Joseph Robinson — to footage of the 10-year-old boy proves any claims of likeness by police to be quite the stretch.
“They had pictures of the perp whom [sic] was in eye sight running down the next block!!!” Patisha continued. “Yet they broke off from chasing the perp to chasing my child.”
Patisha posted the video of her “petrified” son’s account of events in hopes it would draw attention to the terrifying error by police. Though the boy appeared understandably traumatized, he suffered no physical injuries.
“These policemen who had guns drawn on my child are still on the streets,” Patisha noted angrily.
According to local ABC 7, police said they did apprehend the real suspect, who has since been charged with armed robbery — however, law enforcement has not issued an apology or explanation beyond the questionable case of mistaken identity.