The video shows a dark-skinned boy shooting hoops by himself in a suburban driveway when he looks down the street and suddenly stops dribbling.
Clutching the basketball to his side, the 10-year-old quickly hides behind a white Jeep parked at the end of his driveway until a dark SUV passes by and he continues playing.
The SUV was a Trumbull police cruiser.
When his Dad later asked him why he hid from the cruiser, according to news reports, the boy replied: “…because they killed George Floyd.”
The home-security video, which has received national attention after the father posted it on social media a few weeks ago, was played Tuesday during a meeting of the state Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force.
“This wasn’t in the projects – this was in Trumbull,” Daryl McGraw, who chairs the task force, said when the video ended. “You can see the neighborhood looks pretty nice. You would think that the narrative would be slightly different than in an urban neighborhood – but it’s not.”
The task force’s 13 members include community activists, clergy, legislators and representatives from law enforcement. It was created by the General Assembly last year as part of a broader police-accountability law that went into effect Oct. 1, requiring the release of body and dashboard camera videos following two high-profile police shootings during car chases in Hamden and Wethersfield.
It is also working on issues including how to change the culture of policing from “warrior” to “guardian,” and the establishment of an independent investigation process with community involvement after alleged police wrongdoing.
One of the group’s major initiatives is to hold several community listening sessions throughout the state by the end of the summer and to incorporate that input into its final report, due by year’s end.
“Hearing what people have to say from different areas of the state is very important,” said McGraw, who has battled addiction and been incarcerated before becoming a professional mentor and advocate for men re-entering the community from prison.
Milford Police Chief Keith Mello, a member of the task force, said changing the perception of police as demonstrated by the boy in the video is crucial, and difficult to achieve.
“I hope that as we seize on this momentum we can, if not eliminate, at least lessen these instances where young people, for whatever reason, look at us and don’t see someone that’s there to protect them,” he said.
Another group member, Rev. Steven Cousins of New Haven, said he struggles with how to balance what he teaches his two young sons about the police.
“My six-year-old wants to be a police officer,” he said. “I still cringe when he wants to play cops and robbers or take his little brother to jail. I don’t want to give my son a sense of fear of police officers but you can see what happened with that little boy (in the video) is actually being taught by what he sees and what he has been told. We have to find a way to change that narrative.”
The group decided Tuesday to form three subcommittees that will make recommendations to the full task force on issues including how to increase public awareness of how the public can influence law enforcement in their communities, how to improve relations between police and the disabled community, and how to engage community and state leaders in implementing the recommendations.
“I agree the narrative needs to be changed,” McGraw said. “But everyone needs to take part in that change.”