Black teenager, riding home from church with white grandmother, handcuffed by police responding to false robbery report

Police in Wisconsin, allegedly responding to a false robbery report, handcuffed a black teenager who was riding with his white grandmother and her friend. (Photo: Wauwatosa Police Department)

An 18-year-old black man was handcuffed and detained by Wauwatosa, Wis., police officers while he was on his way home from church with his white grandmother and her friend on Sept. 2.

Akil Carter was held for six minutes in the back seat of a squad car, handcuffed, while his grandmother told a responding officer that Carter was her grandson.

“I’m telling you this is my grandson. This is my best friend,” the woman says. 

According to a video released by the Wauwatosa Police Department, an officer is heard telling Carter’s grandmother he was responding to a report made by witnesses, a black couple who flagged down officers to claim that a black man was robbing a white woman in a blue Lexus. The grandmother, who is driving a blue Lexus, tells the officer that she and her friend are “on our way home from church to my house.”

Video footage shows police pulling over a Lexus, at which point the officer demands that Carter exit with his hands up. The teen then walks back toward the patrol vehicle.

After Carter’s grandmother informs the officer that Carter is her grandson, the officer apologizes “for that guy not knowing what he was talking about.”

“I’m sure he saw two old white ladies in a car with a black kid and made some assumptions,” she responded.

The footage in the tweet below was taken by a bystander; however, it falsely states Carter’s age as being 15 years old.

Wauwatosa Police Capt. Brian Zalewski told the New York Daily News that the citizens who reported the incident did not stay to give a formal statement, despite the officers’ request. Zalewski also said that officers drew their handguns but kept them pointed in a safe direction.

Joy Bertrand, Carter’s attorney, has requested all documents from the Wauwatosa Police Department about the stop and the basis for the stop. She believes her client was harassed.

“After we take a look at whatever basis they have for stopping and harassing this family, we will be able to comment further,” Bertrand told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Once we take a look at those documents, we will have further comment.” 

The couple who told police officers there was a robbery taking place, or had taken place, left the scene and have not yet been located for a formal statement.

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