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Metro Atlanta Mom Demands Accountability After Officers Handcuff 11-Year-Old Daughter in Case of Mistaken Identity

An Atlanta-area mother says her daughter, 11, is “traumatized” after being handcuffed and detained by DeKalb County Police Wednesday, March 4 in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

That mother, Cynthia Hendricks, is demanding accountability after officers reportedly misidentified the girl as a suspect in an attempted car theft in their neighborhood, even after she provided them with proof her child was innocent.

DeKalb Police Arrest 11-Year-Old
Cynthia Hendricks said she plans to file a formal complaint with DeKalb County Police after officers wrongfully detained her 11-year-old daughter. (Photos: 11 Alive News/video screenshot)

“(The officer) placed handcuffs on my daughter, placed her in back of police vehicle with intent to transport her to juvenile detention,” she told WXIA-TV 11Alive.

Hendricks said she was surprised when DeKalb officers showed up at her home and asked for her daughter by name. The cop she spoke with explained her daughter was suspected of trying to steal a neighbor’s car just minutes earlier.

Authorities informed her that a girl around 16 years old and two male teens were spotted trying to break into a car on the same street. The officer reportedly stated that a neighbor had pointed him to her daughter, after saying the female involved had fled in the direction of Hendricks’ home.

The Atlanta mother maintained her daughter’s innocence, however, saying there was no way it was her. Another Atlanta media outlet reports Hendricks presented her phone, with surveillance footage from her Ring doorbell camera showing her child hadn’t left the house since getting home from school around 4 p.m. that day.

Hendricks’ attempts to clarify the situation fell on deaf ears. About 20 minutes later, she says four officers and four detectives showed up and detained her daughter.

“Yes ma’am, she’s being detained right now,” a policeman says in a video captured on the home’s doorbell cam. In it, the officer is seen cuffing the young girl before leading her to a squad car parked on the street.

“I know she was terrified,” Hendricks said of her daughter, adding, “She’s a strong little girl, but this is overwhelming.”

It was only after her daughter was detained, reportedly for about 10 minutes, that Hendricks says police asked her daughter’s age and the clothing she was last seen wearing. She says a detective was shocked to learn the girl was just 11 years old, and eventually let her go.

Now she’s demanding accountability from police and wants to see changes in the handling by DeKalb County Police of incidents involving children.

“Let’s do our due diligence,” said Hendricks, who now plans to file a formal complaint with the department. “Let us make sure that everything is good before we go to someone’s house.”

Officials with DeKalb PD said the incident is under review.

Atlanta Black Star reached out to the department for comment and is awaiting response.

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