Boy, 8, and his pregnant mom held at gunpoint by police over mistaken identity

Shanice Stewart

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — An 8-year-old boy and his pregnant mother were pulled over at gunpoint by multiple Sacramento, California police officers on their way to football practice.

Shanice Stewart, who is nine months pregnant, and her son Brandon were stopped by police Oct. 17 on the highway, after the officers mistook Brandon for a juvenile with two felony warrants, including one for gun possession, according to Sacramento police.

“I noticed that they had guns drawn and they had instructions for me to then toss my keys out of the window,” Stewart told ABC News. “And open the door with my left hand, proceed to get out and put my hands in the air and then walk towards them. I immediately broke down because I didn’t know or understand what was going on.”

Brandon got out of the vehicle afraid that his mother would be arrested or worse, according to Stewart. He screamed and pleaded for her to come back to the car. The 8-year-old, not realizing the officers thought he was the suspect, approached them frantically explaining that his mother was just taking him to football practice and hadn’t done anything wrong. It was at that point that Stewart believes the officers realized that Brandon wasn’t the suspect.

“I was scared of him getting shot,” Stewart said. “You don’t know what to expect, especially when it’s multiple officers with their guns drawn towards the car. You just you don’t know. But I was definitely in fear of getting shot, me or my son. Just by one of them feeling like they were in danger or they did not feel comfortable.”

The officers released Stewart and Brandon shortly after, according to Stewart. Police told ABC News they first misidentified Brandon through helicopter surveillance, as he and his mother were leaving their home to go to football practice. Brandon matched the description of a suspect because of his hair style and clothing, according to police.

The next day a captain with the Sacramento police told Stewart the suspect they are looking for is a teenager, according to Stewart. Brandon, a third grader, is about 3’10”, 56 pounds.

“From a distance, officers observed a juvenile who they believed to be the wanted suspect, enter a vehicle with tinted windows,” Sacramento police told ABC News through a statement. “Based on the information regarding firearm history, a high-risk stop was initiated. As officers were conducting the stop and the windows were rolled down, they realized the juvenile in the vehicle was not the wanted suspect, and at that point the high-risk stop was ended.”

According to Stewart, Brandon is traumatized. Every time they approach the highway, her son asks if they can take the street route instead. When he sees a police cruiser drive past their car, he reminds his mother to drive safely. He also only rides in the back seat of the car now, where he feels safer.

“I do keep repeating to him that all police officers are not bad. You can’t just assume that,” Stewart said. “I don’t want him to hate the law. As far as me, at any given moment, every time an officer gets behind me, I’m at fear for my life. I’m scared and he’s scared.”

The Sacramento Police Department told ABC News that the suspect is still at large. When asked if any disciplinary measures would be taken against the officers involved, Sacramento police said the incident is still under review.

“We must acknowledge that a case of mistaken identity occurred,” Sacramento police told ABC News through a statement. “Our officers provided explanation and an apology to the mother and her son. Our department has been in contact with the mother since the incident. We recognize the impact that police interactions can have on our community members.”

Stewart is currently exploring the possibility of taking legal action against the Sacramento Police Department.

“It was definitely heartbreaking. It’s something that is a life changer,” Stewart said. “For us to not have done anything and for it to had went that far.”

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