UNITED STATES NEWS

Texas police officer holds innocent family at gunpoint after making typo while running plates

Aug 1, 2023, 2:10 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2023, 8:42 am

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — A Texas police department is apologizing after a typo made while checking a license plate resulted in officers pulling over what they wrongly suspected was a stolen car and then holding an innocent Black family at gunpoint.

Frisco police acknowledged the traffic stop was caused by an officer misreading the car’s license plate. As the officer saw it leaving a hotel in the city north of Dallas, she checked its Arkansas plate as “AZ” for Arizona — but should have run it as “AR.”

The driver of the car, her husband and one of the two children being driven by the Arkansas couple to a youth basketball tournament can all be heard sobbing on body camera video posted online by police in Frisco, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“We made a mistake,” Frisco Police Chief David Shilson said in a statement. “Our department will not hide from its mistakes. Instead, we will learn from them.”

The video shows an officer pointing his handgun toward the Dodge Charger as he orders the driver to get out and walk backward toward officers with her hands raised. Also in the car were the woman’s husband, their son and a nephew.

Police order one of the children to step out and lift his shirt. The driver’s husband and the other child are told to stay inside and raise their hands through the open windows.

“I’ve never been in trouble a day of my life,” the pleading driver says on the video. “This is scaring the hell out of me.”

The officer who initiated the traffic stop told the driver she was pulled over because her license plate was “associated essentially with no vehicle.”

“Normally, when we see things like this, it makes us believe the vehicle was stolen,” the officer tells the crying woman on the body-camera video.

Frisco police said in their statement Friday that all the department’s officers have received guidance stressing the need for accuracy when reporting information. The department said its review will aim to “identify further changes to training, policies and procedures” to prevent future mistakes.

A Frisco police spokesman, officer Joshua Lovell, said the department had no further comment Tuesday, citing the ongoing police review of the traffic stop. He declined to provide a copy of the police incident report to The Associated Press, saying a formal records request would have to be filed for the public information.

On the body-camera video released from the July 23 traffic stop, tensions are heightened briefly when the driver tells police she has a gun locked in her car’s glove compartment.

“Occupants of the car, leave your hands outside the car. We know there is a gun in there,” one of the officers holding a handgun shouts at the passengers. “If you reach in that car, you may get shot.”

Civil rights lawyer David Henderson reviewed a video that showed part of the stop and told the Dallas Morning News he thinks the family was profiled, adding that he believes police violated the family’s constitutional rights.

A Black woman having a firearm in her vehicle also may have played a role, he said.

“In cases I’ve seen involving people of color who have a license to carry, as soon as they alert the police to the fact that they have a weapon, the police change drastically in terms of how they deal with them,” Henderson said.

More than seven minutes pass before officers on the scene holster their weapons after recognizing their mistake and approach the car.

One of the children keeps his hands on the back of the car as the driver’s husband gets out, telling the officers they’re travelers from Arkansas and had just finished breakfast before their car was stopped.

“Listen, bro, we’re just here for a basketball tournament,” the sobbing man tells the officers. One of the children can also be heard crying as the man adds: “Y’all pulled a gun on my son for no reason.”

The officers apologize repeatedly, with one saying they responded with guns drawn because it’s “the normal way we pull people out of a stolen car.” Another assures the family that they were in no danger because they followed the officers’ orders.

“Y’all cooperate, nothing’s going to happen,” the officer says. “No one just randomly shoots somebody for no reason, right?”

The officer who initiated the traffic stop and was among those with guns drawn was also Black. She explains that when she checked the license plate, “I ran it as AZ for Arizona instead of AR” for Arkansas.

“This is all my fault, OK,” the officer says. “I apologize for this. I know it’s very traumatic for you, your nephew and your son. Like I said, it’s on me.”

The driver’s husband is visibly shaken after police explain what happened.

He says that he dropped his phone after the car was pulled over. “If I would have went to reach for my phone, we could’ve all got killed.”

The man then turns away from the officers, walks to the passenger side of the car and bows his head, sobbing loudly.

United States News

Associated Press

Sweltering temperatures persist across the US, while floodwaters inundate the Midwest

Millions of Americans sweated through a scorching weekend as temperatures soared across the U.S., while residents were rescued from floodwaters that forced evacuations across the Midwest. One person was killed during flooding in South Dakota, the governor said. From the mid-Atlantic to Maine, across the Great Lakes region, and throughout the West to California, public […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

3 Columbia University administrators put on leave over alleged text exchange at antisemitism panel

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia University said it has placed three administrators on leave while it investigates allegations that they exchanged unprofessional text messages while attending a panel discussion about antisemitism on campus. The university said the administrators work for its undergraduate Columbia College, which hosted the panel discussion “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged in shooting that critically wounded Philadelphia officer, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 36-year-old Philadelphia man was charged Sunday with attempted murder in connection with a shooting that critically wounded a police officer after a traffic stop, police said. Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez also faces charges that include aggravated assault and home invasion, police said. The 31-year-old officer and his partner stopped a car carrying […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

California boy, 4, who disappeared from campground found safe after 22 hours alone in wilderness

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A 4-year-old California boy who wandered away from a campground in the Sierra National Forest was found safe after spending 22 hours alone in the wilderness, authorities said. A search-and-rescue team of about 50 officers and volunteers set out around 11 a.m. Thursday after the child was reported missing from the […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

One man died and five others were hospitalized in downtown St. Louis shooting

ST. LOUIS (AP) — One man is dead and five others have been wounded in a downtown St. Louis shooting, police said. Police believe women were fighting in a park when men interfered and drew firearms, according to social media posts from the agency. The man who died was in his mid-twenties, police said. Five […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan sheriff’s deputy fatally shot pursuing a stolen vehicle in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan county sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot while pursing a suspected stolen vehicle in Detroit, the Oakland County sheriff’s office said Sunday. Bradley J. Reckling, who was on duty in an unmarked car, was following a 2022 Chevy Equinox Saturday evening after the vehicle was reported stolen earlier in the day […]

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Texas police officer holds innocent family at gunpoint after making typo while running plates