Cops Hold Family at Gunpoint Over a Typo

Police in Frisco, Texas, vow to learn from mistake that left an Arkansas family traumatized
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2023 8:01 AM CDT

Police officers in Texas held a visiting family at gunpoint all because an officer made a typo while performing a search on their license plate. "It looks like I made a mistake," the officer tells the Arkansas family after a terrifying ordeal that included a sixth-grade boy being placed in handcuffs, per the Washington Post. The Frisco police officer had spotted a black Dodge Charger with an out-of-state license plate as it left a hotel on July 23. What the officer didn't know was that the family from Little Rock had traveled to the Dallas area for a youth basketball tournament. Because Chargers are "frequently stolen," the officer "conducted a computer check of the vehicle's Arkansas license plate," police said in a Friday release. But the officer incorrectly entered the state as Arizona, not Arkansas.

Receiving "an incorrect registration return," the officer suspected the vehicle to be stolen and "initiated a high-risk traffic stop," police said. The female driver, her husband, their sixth-grade son, and a nephew were ordered out of the vehicle at gunpoint, per the Post. "If you reach in that car, you may get shot," an officer with his gun drawn informed the family after the driver drew attention to the licensed handgun locked in the glove compartment. Officers also handcuffed the couple's son. "Please don't let them do that to my baby," the woman said in body camera footage. "Why is my baby in cuffs? What are you all doing?" She'd already told officers that she owned the vehicle and was from Arkansas, not Arizona. Still, it was another 15 minutes before police admitted the mistake.

The officer who initiated the traffic stop confessed to running the plate as "AZ" instead of "AR." Another officer then told the son, "Hey man, don't let this affect your game," per Fox News. "Y'all put a gun on my son for no reason," said the distraught father, who broke down in tears, per CNN. "We could have all gotten killed," he said. "I thank God that we were not physically injured but we have suffered a lot of mental and emotional trauma from this," the driver added in a TikTok video, per the Post. In a Friday statement, Frisco Police Chief David Shilson said he apologized to the family and "assured them that we will hold ourselves accountable and provide transparency through the process." A department rep says "any discipline related to the stop is still being determined," per the Post. (More traffic stop stories.)

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