April V. Taylor
In September 2013, 13-year-old Kesean Smalls and 12-year-old Jahniel Hinds were playing a simple childhood game of tag outside of their Brooklyn homes when NYPD Captain Brian McCaughey ran towards them screaming obscenities and ordering to the ground with his gun drawn. The terrified teenagers complied, and even after another officer arrived to intervene, the kids were still scared the officer may shoot them, with Hinds hiding behind his mother for safety.
According to relatives and sources, McCaughey yelled at the boys, “Motherf—–, get on the ground!” Smalls was placed in handcuffs, and they were not released until Jahniel’s mother intervened.
McCaughey later realized he had responded to a call at the wrong address and was four blocks away from the correct address. He recently entered a guilty plea to the Citizens Complaint Review Board (CCRB) on charges of improper force, abuse of authority and discourtesy. In what many see as an inadequate punishment, McCaughey was docked 30 vacation days as punishment. He even had the nerve to haggle with the board in an attempt to reduce the loss of time to 18 vacation days.
The teenagers say that they never received an apology for McCaughey’s actions. In a statement to the New York Daily News, Hinds mother Corinia Sivers states, “I asked for an apology because I know mistakes happen, but they never did. All they were doing was running and playing tag.”
Small’s grandmother Yvonne Smalls indicates that she never questioned whether or not her grandson had done anything to deserve having a gun drawn on him, stating, “I didn’t even ask ‘What did he do?’ Because Kesean has always been a non-confrontational kid. It was more a matter of ‘Why are you doing this?'”
CCRB executive director Mina Malik thinks McCaughey overreacted, stating, “Pointing a gun at two young boys, who had done nothing other than play tag on their own street, was a reckless use of force that traumatized them and created an extremely dangerous situation.”
Jahniel says that he is now scared to play outside after his encounter with McCaughey. One has to consider what consequences a civilian would have faced for pulling a gun on two kids who were playing tag and wonder why this officer was let off so easy for traumatizing two innocent children who will never look at a game of tag the same again.