The children, ages 9, 12, 14, 15 and 16, were in a car headed back home from a local Walmart when they encountered the police officers.
By Breanna Edwards, ESSENCE
Two Waycross, Georgia, police officers are currently on administrative leave after shooting at five minors, including a child as young as 9, during a Saturday-morning traffic stop.
According to News4Jax, none of the children were physically injured in the gunfire. However, the two oldest children, both teenagers, were arrested “based on circumstances surrounding the incident,” police claimed.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to look into the incident, which apparently started at around 8 a.m. on August 8 when a Waycross officer saw a traffic violation at the intersection of Howe and Brunell street and tried to get license plate information.
“As the vehicle approached the area of Walters and Greenwood Street, three minors (ages 9, 12, and 14) exited the vehicle and ran off while the vehicle stopped,” the GBI noted in its report. “A second officer responded to assist while the first officer followed the three minors in his vehicle. As the second officer began to approach the vehicle from the front, the vehicle drove toward him. The officer fired multiple times at the vehicle. Two male minors (ages 15 and 16) exited the vehicle while it was still in drive. The vehicle came to a stop further up the road. There was an altercation between the second officer and the 15-year-old male that had exited the vehicle. The minor was eventually secured in handcuffs. He was treated by EMS for minor injuries from the altercation.”
However, the children tell a different tale. According to News4Jax, Dominique Goodman, Sr., the children’s father, said that five children, ages 9, 12, 14, 15 and 16, were in a car on their way back home when the officer started to follow them.
The three youngest children said that the officer did not turn on his lights to pull them over until they had gotten into their own neighborhood, at which point the two older teens got scared and asked the younger kids to run home to get their father. When the three youngest children jumped out, the officer started shooting.
The 9-year-old told the news station that at least seven shots were fired and one went by his face.
“It went past my face,” the young boy said. “I could have gotten shot in my face, but they shot the swing.”
“They shot at a car full of unarmed minors. A car full of unarmed children. Like who in the world can’t see that this is a 9-year-old? Who can’t see that this is a child? They look like children,” Goodman said. “They are babies. What was the purpose of shooting?”
Goodman, who heard the gunfire, stepped outside to check it out and saw the children running and screaming for help.
“We go in the back, we open the door, we see my 9-year-old, my 12-year-old and a 14-year-old running from the police behind them with gunshots coming behind them,” Goodman said. “We go down the street and we see our 15-year-old and our 16-year-old on the ground.”
In cell phone footage that Goodman took, you could hear him pleading with officers.
“Those my children, man,” he yelled. “They minors, man.”
Georgia police officer fired his gun at a vehicle with three teenagers and two younger children inside during an attempted traffic stop. The two police officers involved in the Saturday incident describe a confrontation, where the 16-year-old behind the wheel drove towards one of the officers, who opened fire, and the 15-year-old tried to grab one of their guns. Dominique Goodman Sr., the father to all five children, tells a different story. He says multiple shots were fired at his three youngest children, ages 9 to 14, before he had to plead with the officers not to shoot his older sons. The family says the confrontation began as the Goodman-Boyd children returned from Walmart in Waycross, Georgia. Amari Goodman, 12, says they noticed a police car following them without the lights on. It was only when the children got to their neighborhood that officers turned their lights on. Police say they followed the car to obtain license plate information after they saw a traffic violation. Once in their neighborhood, the two oldest children told the three younger ones to get out of the car and go find their father at home, just up the street. 16-year-old is charged with reckless driving, aggravated assault on a police officer, driving without a license, possession of a handgun by a minor and a stop sign violation. The 15-year-old is charged with felony obstruction of an officer, removal or attempt to remove a firearm from an officer and possession of a handgun by a minor.
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The older teens were both taken away in handcuffs and are both facing weapons and other charges, according to the news station.
The 16-year-old is facing charges of possession of a handgun by a minor, reckless driving, aggravated assault on a police officer, driving without a license and a stop sign violation, while the 15-year-old is being charged with possession of a handgun by a minor, felony obstruction of an officer and removal or attempt to remove a firearm from an officer.
This article originally appeared in ESSENCE.