Frisco Police Chief apologizes to Arkansas family pulled over at gunpoint on Dallas North Tollway
The Frisco Police Chief is apologizing today to a family from Little Rock pulled over and held at gunpoint this past Sunday because the officers mistakenly believed they were in a stolen car: a mistake Frisco PD says happened because an officer entered the vehicle as being from Arizona, not Arkansas.
On Sunday, a Frisco police officer saw a black Dodge Charger with an out-of-state license plate leaving a hotel. Police said due to recent burglaries and vehicle thefts in which Chargers are frequently stolen, the officer conducted a computer check of the vehicle’s Arkansas license plate. However, when entering the information, the plate was mistakenly entered out of Arizona, according to police. The error resulted in an incorrect registration return, leading the officer to believe that the vehicle was possibly stolen.
The officer then reportedly initiated a "high-risk traffic stop" on the Dallas North Tollway, which police said is standard procedure for stolen vehicles.
The officer who pulled over the vehicle waited inside her squad car for nearly four minutes until additional officers arrived. In body cam videos released Friday, the officers use their PA system to shout commands at the family.
"Everyone put their hands outside, do it now," an officer yells. "Walk a little faster. The tollway is shut down," the officer shouts at the female driver. "Keep walking backwards."
After the driver is out of the vehicle and placed in a squad car, officers yell at a teen in the back seat to get out next. He turns out to be the 6th grade son of the driver.
"If you reach in that car, you may get shot, so be careful. Do not reach in the car," the officer shouts once they have been told, by the driver, that her licensed handgun is locked in the glove compartment.
Then, 10-minutes into the traffic stop, you can hear the officers in the body cam videos realizing their mistake.
"Are you serious," an officer asks.
"The wrong tag was written. This isn't a stolen vehicle," another officer tells him.
The passenger in the front seat, the driver's husband, breaks down in tears. The boys in the back seat are his son and a nephew. He is their basketball coach, and they were headed to a youth basketball tournament and were supposed to be playing their first game at 9AM.
"Listen, but we're just here for a basketball tournament," he tells the officers. "Man, don't do this to my sons' bro," he says as he begins to cry. "Y'all put a gun to my son for no reason."
"So it looks like I made a mistake," the officer who made the initial computer entry tells them.
"We're so sorry it happened like this," another officer says. "We're human as well, and we make mistakes."
On her TikTok account, the driver, who identifies herself as Demi Janale, recounted what she called a traumatizing encounter.
"It's just I can't make sense of it. And why my son was treated that way. Why he was not treated as a child," she said. "It's not OK. And I thank God that we were not physically injured, but we have suffered a lot of mental and emotional trauma from this."
"I've cried so much today, I don't know if I have any more tears to cry. Every time I see the video of my baby, I just can't believe it. I feel like this is a very bad dream."
“We made a mistake,” said Frisco Police Chief David Shilson in a written statement. “Our department will not hide from its mistakes. Instead, we will learn from them. The officer involved quickly accepted responsibility for what happened, which speaks to integrity. I’ve spoken with the family. I empathize with them and completely understand why they’re upset. I apologized on behalf of our department and assured them that we will hold ourselves accountable and provide transparency through the process. This incident does not reflect the high standard of service that our officers provide on a daily basis to our residents, businesses and visitors.”