An Arlington family wants answers after police drew their weapons on a teenage boy, mistaking him for a possible suspect.
Rykaeem Morris, 16, said he returned home on Monday afternoon and was about to go swimming. He was steps outside of his home.
“Right before I could even head to the door, I see the cops pull up. I didn’t pay attention at first, until they full get out of the car,” Morris said.
Guns were drawn, he remembers.
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“I was so scared. My body became stiff. I couldn’t move. I was directly frozen in fear. I saw they had their guns on me. I saw the green dots pointed on me, on the wall. I was just shocked,” he said. “In my mind, I was like, ‘oh my god, I’m going to die.’”
A spokesperson for the Arlington Police Department confirmed officers responded to Hudson Apartments in Arlington after a 911 call from someone Monday afternoon. The caller claimed to see someone through his door’s peephole wearing a hoodie and holding a firearm that was partially covered by a towel.
“The 911 caller advised that he'd been receiving threats from a person over social media, and the 911 caller believed the person at his door with a firearm was the same person who was making the threats,” an emailed statement to NBC 5 read.
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When officers arrived, they quickly observed a person on the third level of the apartment building wearing a hoodie and “who had a towel covering something in his hands,” police said.
“Given this person's proximity to the 911 caller's location, that he [Morris] matched the 911 caller's description of the suspect, and that officers were concerned he might be armed, officers attempted to detain the subject by pointing their weapons at the subject and gave verbal commands for him to show officers his hands,” the emailed statement continued.
Morris was not armed. Police also added he was not the person making social media threats to the 911 caller.
His older brother, Relius Johnson, said he got a call from Arlington police while he was at work nearby. At the time of the initial call, Johnson said authorities instructed him to tell his brother to shelter in place due to the search for the possible suspect related to the 911 call.
“I’m calling my little brother. He finally answers. He’s chaotic. I’m thinking he’s chaotic because of what’s going on outside the door,” Johnson said. “Until he finally answered the phone again, was screaming, ‘they have their guns on me. Come save me.’ Then I was like, 'hold up. That’s you.'”
Johnson is the director of New Maverick Orientation at the University of Texas at Arlington. As he rushed home to his brother, he said "the worst" was going through his mind.
“I teach a Black Lives Matter course. So, I just start thinking of all the names that were running through my head, and also, am I going to have to call my grandma and say, 'Hey, gran. Keem just shot by the police?'” he recalled. “I could be preparing for him to go six feet under and have a funeral and everything. I’m happy he’s here, but I’m also really upset about all the stuff he had to go through.”
Johnson said he tried to get as many officers as he could to listen to him once he arrived.
“We’re working through a lot of trauma already for him [Rykaeem]. So, this doesn’t help me help him,” he said. “He already had a fear of cops. He already had a fear of guns. Both of these put together just doesn’t help.”
Arlington police declined an interview on the matter Wednesday. A spokesperson said eventually, the department’s Tactical Unit was able to make responsive verbal contact with Morris and he agreed to show officers his hands and come down the stairs and meet with officers. Morris was detained by officers without further incident before being released to his brother.
The entire incident lasted just under three hours Monday, police said. A spokesperson said counseling and additional services were offered to Morris and his family.
“While our investigation is continuing at this time, APD does not believe this was a 'swatting' incident. We are currently looking into the original and subsequent statements made by the 911 caller as part of our further evaluation of the incident,” a statement to NBC 5 read.