Following More National Attention, TPD Issues Statement On Black Children Cuffed For 'Jaywalking'

Jun 15, 2020

Following another public relations black eye, as footage of an incident in which Tulsa police officers handcuffed two Black children in north Tulsa for allegedly jaywalking aired on national news networks, the Tulsa Police Department has issued a new statement on the incident.

The statement, posted to the department's Facebook page, claims the officers in the footage are members of TPD's "Organized Gang Unit."

"These officers, along with members of the department’s Crime Gun Unit (CGU) are tasked with interdicting and removing illegal firearms from the streets of Tulsa," the statement reads. (It does not draw any connection between gangs, guns, and the two children stopped and handcuffed by officers.) 

The statement also lists 10 crimes allegedly committed within a half-mile of the location of where the teens were stopped. Again, the statement does not make any connection between those crimes and the two children.

Body camera footage released last week by TPD shows officers approaching the children on North Osage Drive before grabbing one from behind. Eventually, both children are placed in handcuffs. 

While facedown and handcuffed, one of the boys asks why the two were being followed by police in the first place.

"Because you were jaywalking! You broke the law!" the TPD officer appears to respond.

State Rep. Regina Goodwin (D-Tulsa) said at a press conference Friday that the incident was not acceptable.

"That body cam once again showed the everyday practices of the Tulsa Police Department," Goodwin said. "That was a simple incident where you could have just had a conversation with two young men, who we don't know who they will become."

"But had that situation gone wrong, and had there been another young Black man dead -- what we're saying is it was a simple question of 'Hey guys, how ya doing? I'm Officer Such-and-Such. Would you please mind getting over out of the road?'" 

"How they were thrown to the ground, how they were handcuffed... what we're saying is we need reform in Tulsa, Oklahoma," Goodwin said.

The statement says the incident is under investigation by the department's internal affairs unit. In a statement last week, Mayor G.T. Bynum said "no Tulsa kid should have to fear being tackled and cuffed for walking down the street."

Neither Bynum nor TPD Chief Wendell Franklin has held a press conference or spoken publicly beyond the release of written statements. 

The "jaywalking" incident came within days of another controversy involving TPD, in which Maj. Travis Yates said on a podcast that systemic racism in policing doesn't exist and that police shoot Black Americans "less than we probably ought to be based on the crimes being committed."