'We've made a mistake': Family pulled over, held at gunpoint after Texas police officer's typo

Body camera video shows the father telling police he's heading to a basketball tournament as his son can be heard crying.

ByRebekah Riess, CNN, CNNWire
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Family held at gunpoint after cop's typo
The Frisco, Texas, police chief issued an apology after mistakenly pulling over a family headed to a basketball tournament and holding them at gunpoint.

FRISCO, Texas -- The Frisco, Texas, police chief issued an apology on Friday after a family from Little Rock, Arkansas, who were headed to a basketball tournament in Grapevine, was mistakenly pulled over in a "high-risk stop," after a Frisco officer ran the car's plates as being from Arizona, instead of Arkansas, leading police to believe it was stolen, according to body camera video and information released by police.

On July 23, a Frisco police officer saw a black Dodge Charger with an out-of-state license plate leave a hotel and ran a check of the vehicle's license plate. According to a news release from Frisco Police, when entering the information, the officer mistakenly entered the plate as being from Arizona, instead of Arkansas, causing an incorrect registration return and leading the officer to believe that the vehicle was possibly stolen.

The officer then initiated a "high-risk traffic stop" on the Dallas North Tollway and waited for backup officers to arrive, the release said. Police closed the southbound lanes of the tollway and conducted the high-risk stop, which the department said is "standard procedure for stolen vehicles."

Body camera video from two officers, released by the department on Friday, shows the mother who was driving and her 6th grade son, who was in the back seat, being ordered out of the vehicle.

"Slowly exit the vehicle. Face away from us. (...) Turn around. Do not face us," says one officer who has his gun drawn toward the car. "Everybody in the car - hands outside the window. (...) Driver, slowly lift up your shirt, only for us to see your waistband. Slowly spin around."

"If you reach in that car, you may get shot so be careful. Do not reach in the car," the officer shouts once they have been told, by the driver, that her licensed handgun is locked in the glove compartment.

Police say an incident review is underway.

"We made a mistake," Frisco Police Chief David Shilson said in a statement Friday. "Our department will not hide from its mistakes. Instead, we will learn from them. The officer involved quickly accepted responsibility for what happened, which speaks to integrity. I've spoken with the family. I empathize with them and completely understand why they're upset."

The body camera video shows the officer who initiated the stop taking the mother aside and questioning her about her car's tags. The woman tells the officer that the children in the back of the car are her son and nephew. Meanwhile, body camera video shows the driver's husband talking to a second officer, saying "Listen sir, this is my wife's car. We're just in a basketball tournament."

"I'm a basketball coach. Look at this bro," he continues, as his son can be heard crying.

"I got conceal carry ... Y'all put a gun on my son for no reason."

A Frisco police sergeant then arrived, and officers realized a mistake had been made.

One officer explains that it was an honest mistake.

"That's a terrible experience," responds the father. "You all got to do your job, but we're all legit," he said.

"It looks like I made a mistake," the officer tells the family after her sergeant ordered officers to stand down and called off the high-risk stop. "So I ran it AZ for Arizona, instead of AR - and that's what happened."

The father then responds, "It could have gone all wrong for us."

Distraught, the driver's husband can then be seen turning away from the officers and breaking down in tears.

"We're so sorry that happened like this. We had no intent on doing this, you know?" another officer tells the family. "We're humans as well and we make mistakes. I'm not justifying anything, I'm just saying, like, it wasn't a computer that ran it. It was our human error that did this. So please forgive us."

According to police, the incident review was initiated that day to determine "what happened, how it was managed, and to evaluate what needed to be addressed to prevent this from happening in the future." Police said an ongoing review would identify further changes to the department's "training, policies, and procedures" needed.

"I apologized on behalf of our department and assured them that we will hold ourselves accountable and provide transparency through the process. This incident does not reflect the high standard of service that our officers provide on a daily basis to our residents, businesses and visitors," the chief added in his statement.

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