Editor’s note: A family member of Michael Thomas Jr. sent video to NBC 5 of the 10-year-old being handcuffed in 2018. His mother asked us to publish the video to show what happened to her son as she continues to seek answers from police. NBC 5 interviewed Michael with his mother's permission.
The Chicago Office of Police Accountability announced late Thursday that it determined two officers who searched and handcuffed a 10-year-old boy in June 2018 violated Chicago Police Department policy by restraining the boy for an "extended period of time."
Cell phone video of the incident showed officers handcuffing young Michael Thomas Jr. while questioning him about a gun. At the time, police said they'd received multiple calls of a 10- to 12-year-old with a gun in the area. Officers also stated Thomas ran from them briefly when they approached him.
COPA said the officers involved, identified as officers Spicuzza and Garduno, detained the boy for "approximately 17 minutes, resulting in a traumatic...response."
The police oversight agency recommended that the officers be suspended from CPD for 30 days and be required to participate in related training. Supt. David Brown objected to the discipline recommendation and one member of the Chicago Police Board upheld the objection, so the officers will not be suspended.
“We are disappointed by the decision overturning COPA’s findings and recommendations in this case, but remain steadfast in our commitment to accountability of law enforcement officers,” COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts said in a news release. “While COPA values the member’s review and conclusion, it maintains that the officer’s prolonged restraint of this child, after he was searched, demonstrated he was not armed, could no longer present any threat and was experiencing emotional...trauma is unacceptable and in violation of CPD policy. "
The boy's uncle, Victor, confronted the officers at the scene and can be heard on the video questioning why his nephew was in handcuffs.
“They’re telling them that someone called them saying that there is a 12-year-old black kid on a bike with all blue on had a gun,” the uncle is heard saying in the video. “There was about five little black boys with all blue on.”
No weapon was recovered at the scene.