I'm sure most of you read Scott Henson's account the other day of being stopped, detained and handcuffed by the Austin Police Department while walking his granddaughter home from the skating rink.
This kind of thing is well outside my wheelhouse and so I had no intention of piling on APD. I thought APD overreacted badly and showed poor judgment. And I expected it to make some sort of public statement of . . . not remorse, exactly, but at least acknowledgment that it had caused this man and his granddaughter unnecessary distress.
But instead APD has doubled down, and is defending its overreaction as the sort of reasonable and appropriate response it must make to any suspicion of child abduction:
[APD spokesman] Hipolito said that a staff member at the Millennium Center called 911 about 7:50 p.m. Friday reporting a possible kidnapping.
That caller said a white man took a black female child and ran into the woods, Hipolito said. Several staff members left to go look for the man, presumably Henson, and police responded quickly, Hipolito said.
About 10 officers were dispatched, along with a helicopter and a K-9 unit, he said.
Hipolito added that kidnapping suspects may be related to their victims. He said that officers detained Henson and his granddaughter, separated them and called the girl's mother to verify their relationship.
"You have to investigate to determine if the grandfather is supposed to have the child," Hipolito said. "To me, he's making it into more of a racial thing.
This doesn't justify the handcuffing. And it is utter bullshit anyway. If there had been a report by a family member that the child was missing, then of course the police should have checked with the mother. But this incident was triggered by the report of a random stranger, which amounted to little more than "I don't think that little black girl belongs to that white man." Once the deputy constable and APD had verified that Scott was the girl's grandfather, and thus was a plausible custodian, that should have been the end of it. Or does APD really contend that it is SOP to detain and handcuff any adult escorting his granddaughter, niece or cousin until the child's mom can be gotten on the phone? What was lacking here was a reasonable suspicion that Scott had improper custody of his granddaughter.
APD should just admit it overreacted.
(I also blame Nancy Grace.)