Romie Mims is an 11-year-old boy who lives in Vallejo, California, and was just trying to do a “good deed,” when he found himself threatened with death by police officers. The whole incident turned out to be a strange case of mistaken identity that left the sixth-grader in tears and badly shaken last week.
Romie told his story in an interview with San Francisco TV station KTVU. And the police in Vallejo now say they have apologized both publicly, and to the boy and his mother.
The weird and disturbing incident happened last Thursday morning as Romie Mims was walking to school. On his way, he saw a car with its windows shattered, apparently having been the target of a break-in. Rather than go on his merry way and keep to himself, he thought the right thing to do was knock on the door of the car’s owner and report what he’d seen.
So that’s what he did. Only as he was knocking on the door, the woman who loved in the house calling the police. Before Romie could walk away, getting no answer at the door, he was surrounded by Vallejo police, their guns leveled at him.
“After they told me to put my hands in the air, I put my hands on the back of my head,” Romie said. “They said, ‘If you move we will shoot you.’ I started crying. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do.”
They forced Romie to the ground, handcuffed him, searched him and questioned him. Then they drove him to school.
What actually happened is that the cops were looking for an African-American woman with a gun. Romie is African-American, but he had no gun and he is a sixth-grade boy.
Turns out the woman in the house reported that the previous day, an African-American woman shot at her house and smashed the windows of her car. The resident believed Romie to be that same woman.
“We’re sorry at the police department that it happened,” said Vallejo Police Lieutenant Kevin Bartlett said. “I talked to the mom. Of course she’s upset and I don’t blame her for being upset. It’s part of stuff we have to deal with in Vallejo and unfortunately he got caught in the middle of it.”
But the apology did not satisfy Romie Mims’ mom, Tonya Evans.
“This is my only child and for him to be treated like that is unacceptable,” Romie Mims’ mother told KTVU. “It could have all went a different way and I thank God it didn’t happen like that.”