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Maplewood police to release body camera footage of children being cuffed, detained

Children ages 10-16 were handcuffed and placed in the back of police squad cars before being cleared of wrongdoing.

Body camera footage of Maplewood Police detaining four children while investigating gunfire on Monday will be released to the public, a city spokesperson told Bring Me The News.

“There’s a plan to release it generally to the public,” said Joe Sheeran, the city’s communications manager, adding the release could come later today once the footage is redacted in compliance with data practices. 

The children taken into custody Monday, who were later cleared of wrongdoing, were between the ages of 10 and 16. 

The incident captured partially on cell phone video and shared on social media sparked concern and outrage from the children’s families and other community activists. 

However, Sheeran said police acted with "due diligence" and placed the children in handcuffs for about 20 minutes before they were released. 

"Officers acted with a high level of professionalism and responded in accordance with their training and the fluidity of the situation," he said in an interview Wednesday. "Reports of gun violence are increasing and they are a major concern for our communities and we took serious, appropriate action to ensure that we were at the scene quickly."

Toshira Garraway, whose 16-year-old son was detained during the incident, demanded the children be released when she arrived on-scene. 

Her son had been allowed to make a phone call while being held in the back of the police cruiser, she told Bring Me The News. 

Garraway, who is shown repeatedly swearing at officers in the social media video, said she lost her composure during the traumatic and emotionally damaging event. 

“My goal isn’t to slander police, because I realize police have a job to do," she said in an interview Wednesday. "And I’m not anti-police, I don’t hate police — I do have a duty as a mother though. And I need my son to feel protected.” 

What police say happened

The incident began around 9:30 p.m. on Monday evening when police responded to a report of gunfire in the 1700 block of Cope Avenue. 

Someone with surveillance cameras in the area reported capturing the gunfire on video, Sheeran said. Three gunshots were heard in less than 30 seconds. 

When officers arrived, the four children were spotted walking about 200 yards from the area where shots were reportedly fired, according to Sheeran. The group was crossing from McDonald's to a nearby gas station. 

Two of the children in the group took off running, Sheeran said, and that's when an officer began talking with the other two children.   

Garraway said one 10-year-old child and one 12-year-old child ran away while her 16-year-old and another 12-year-old child stayed to talk with officers. 

Sheeran said other officers reviewing surveillance video confirmed shots were fired in the area and four individuals could be seen retreating out of view on the footage. 

A few minutes after police initially arrived, the two children who ran away walked back to re-join to the group, Sheeran explained. 

About 20 minutes later, all four children were handcuffed and seated in the back of the squad cars. 

Garraway said police allowed her son to call her; Sheeran confirmed one child was allowed to call his mother. 

The children were ultimately released after about 20 minutes in handcuffs when officers reviewed additional surveillance footage and determined they were not the suspects, Sheeran said. 

However, Garraway said she believes her presence and actions ultimately led to the children being released. 

The whole interaction, from the time of the officer's arrival to the time of the children's release, lasted about 42 minutes, Sheeran said. 

Garraway said she wants Maplewood Police to take accountability and apologize for actions that caused trauma to the families involved. 

“The Maplewood Police need to understand the pain that’s already in the community," she said. 

The father of Garraway's son, Justin Teigan, died in 2009 following an encounter with St. Paul Police, prompting Garraway to establish Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence. 

The youngest child detained Monday is the younger sibling of Marcoz Paramo, Garraway also said. Marcoz, 14, died last year after the stolen vehicle he was riding in crashed in Maplewood after the driver fled law enforcement. 

Investigation ongoing 

Police are continuing to investigate Monday's gunfire. 

Officers recovered one shell casing from the scene, Sheeran said. No suspects have yet been identified. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner at 651-249-2608. 

Community members are expected to gather late Wednesday afternoon at the Maplewood Community Center in support of the children and families impacted by Monday's incident. 

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