LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A Black woman from Arkansas who was held at gunpoint along with three family members when Texas police wrongly suspected their car was stolen said Thursday that she decided to speak out after seeing video from a passerby and realizing two officers had aimed firearms at her 13-year-old son while his hands were up.
“I was there present in that moment, but where they had me I couldn’t see everything, so when I seen that video it really broke me, it really broke me bad,” Demetria Heard said during a news conference in Little Rock.
Police in the Dallas suburb of Frisco have apologized and acknowledged that during the July 23 traffic stop, an officer misread the Dodge Charger’s license plate as the family left a hotel to go to a basketball tournament.
Heard was driving, and her son, 12-year-old nephew and husband, Myron Heard, were passengers. Family members of the two boys say they have been traumatized and are reluctant to talk about what happened.
“We all make mistakes, but notice your mistake before they’ve got several guns on my family,” Myron Heard said.
“This escalated to 1,000 when it could have stayed at .5,” he said.
Body camera video from the stop showed that more than seven minutes passed before officers holstered their weapons after recognizing their mistake. They apologized repeatedly, with one saying they responded with guns drawn because it’s “the normal way we pull people out of a stolen car.” Another assured the family that they were in no danger because they followed the officers’ orders.
The officer who initiated the stop and was among those who drew their weapons was also Black. She explained 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 said, as captured by the video. “I apologize for this. I know it’s very traumatic for you, your nephew and your son. Like I said, it’s on me.”
But Demetria Heard said that she felt that the officer seemed dismissive, not apologetic.
“You didn’t even seem genuine at all,” Heard said. “You were just trying to plead your case.”