A police department in California is drawing criticism after a video posted on social media captured officers holding an unarmed man at gunpoint for “fitting the description.”
Police officers from the Hawthorne Police Department detained 24-year-old William Ewell for an alleged robbery-assault that occurred on June 7.
UPDATE: The department has confirmed they believe they arrested the correct suspect.
Initially, we reported they detained the wrong suspect.
In the video of the detainment, which has gone viral online, a woman named Sky, who can be heard being emotional about Ewell’s treatment, was streaming to Instagram live before the video began gaining traction on other social media platforms.
Sky can be heard in the video asking Ewell his name and explaining that her boyfriend Leroy Browning was also the victim of a fatal police shooting in 2015.
“Why are your guns pulled on this young man?” she says in the video.
“He has no weapons on him. We live right now.”
“You going to shoot me, too?” Sky asks the officers who tell her to get out of the way.
“For filming, right?”
Footage shows one female cop points her gun directly at Sky.
”We got a call of a robbery that loosely matches the description,” one of the officers replies to Sky.
Officers admit they are unsure if they even have the right guy after police handcuff Ewell.
“We are just detaining him, okay? We’re not saying he’s a suspect, but we are just trying to figure out what’s going on. So just try to relax.”
However, the department later issued a statement confirming they believe they Ewell was the correct suspect, which can be read below.
The video also drew criticism from users on Facebook and Twitter, who accused police of targeting a black man who “fit the description.”
“I can tell you, this is the MOST COMMON pretext police use to stop and search Black people,” New York public defender Rebecca Kavanagh posted on Twitter.
“After assisting officers arrived, the subject was handcuffed and detained for further investigation,” a statement from the Hawthorne Police Department on June 7 reads, according to USAToday.
UPDATE: The Hawthorne Police Department issued the following statement on Facebook.
We initially reported police detained the wrong suspect.