A passerby’s video of Tallahassee Police making a shoplifting arrest Thursday showed a toddler climbing out the driver’s side door of a pick-up truck and walking barefoot with her hands up over her head toward officers with their guns drawn.
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As the video ricocheted around social media and concern mounted, TPD released two body camera videos in response Friday evening that provide a fuller picture of the incident. It shows the officers talking with adults and working to get the toddler and an infant who were in the cab safely away from the vehicle.
While people in the video said the police were “holding the gun at the baby,” body camera footage shows officers lowering their weapons as they take a man into custody in the parking lot of the Bealls store on Capital Circle Northeast.
Chad M. Bom and James W. McMullen were arrested in the parking lot of the Bealls on Capital Circle Northeast on shoplifting charges. Store employees reported the theft and said one of the suspects had a gun in his waistband.
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Footage from 10 body cameras was reviewed said TPD Chief Michael DeLeo.
He said the toddler unexpectedly got out the pickup truck and imitated her parents, who were suspects, walking toward officers with her hands raised.
“Are there any other adults in the car?” The officer asks.
“No sir,” the man replies. “Just my 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.”.
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The officer tries to coax the girl to come to him, and her mother who was on the scene, and allows the man to join in an attempt to get her away from the pickup truck.
A second video shows an officer and the children’s mother retrieving an infant from the back cab of the truck.
“The body camera footage shows the officers’ concern for the children and their compassion as they permitted the mother to care for the children,” DeLeo said. “The mom, who is a suspect, asks an officer to hold her 2-year-old as she retrieves the infant from a car seat.”.
A gun was found in the back seat during a search of the truck, but it was a pellet gun, DeLeo said.
The videos show that there are different perspectives of an incident that caused concern among citizens, he added, and “justify the investment in body-worn cameras, the importance of all the facts and the professionalism of your officers.”.
“I am proud of how officers handled the situation, how they adapted when they became aware of the children, the level of concern and compassion they showed to the family.”.
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said the contrast of the videos shows officers working with their community.
“This video footage captures the compassion demonstrated by our TPD officers during an intense situation,” he said in a statement. “I’m very proud of their actions and appreciative of the work these men and women do each day to keep our community safe.”.
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Follow Karl Etters on Twitter: @KarlEtters.