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Mom and 8-year-old son held at gunpoint after police mistake identity

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When Shanice Stewart drove her eight-year-old son to his football practice in Sacramento, Calif. this month, she never expected police to be pull her car over at gunpoint.

Stewart, who is nine months pregnant, told ABC News she was stopped on the highway while driving her son Brandon to his practice around 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. Though Stewart initially thought she was being pulled over as part of a traffic stop, she soon learned police mistook her eight-year-old son for a juvenile with two felony warrants, including one for gun possession.

Stewart and her son are both Black.

Sacramento police have said Stewart was stopped because officers believed Brandon, a Grade 3 student, matched the description of the suspect being pursued.

“I noticed that they had guns drawn and they had instructions for me to then toss my keys out of the window,” Stewart told ABC News of the officers.

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She said she exited her vehicle with her hands up and approached police.

“I immediately broke down because I didn’t know or understand what was going on,” Stewart said.

In a post to her Facebook account, Stewart said a helicopter was also circling overhead when she was pulled over by a line of four cop cars.

She said police at the scene explained that Brandon had been identified as a possible suspect when he left their home and entered the car.

“I thought they were going to shoot him,” she wrote. “I’m unsure what to do but I was scared for my baby.”

In her post, Stewart also included two short videos allegedly filmed at the time of the incident. In one of the clips, Brandon can be heard screaming at police officers as his mother walks toward them.

“Please, no! No, please!” the eight-year-old cried repeatedly.

The mother and son were released shortly after being pulled over.

Stewart is now calling for Sacramento Police to also release their bodycam and dashcam videos from the incident.

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“I really want to see all their video cameras to see how dumb this looked to place fear in a child and a pregnant woman!” she wrote.

A representative for the Sacramento Police Department acknowledged the mistake to NBC News and claimed the windows of Stewart’s vehicle were heavily tinted. The spokesperson said police conducted a “high-risk stop” because officers “observed a juvenile who they believed to be the wanted suspect.”

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Police said it was helicopter surveillance that misidentified Brandon outside his home. Authorities claimed Brandon’s hairstyle and clothing matched the juvenile suspect. Brandon is about three-feet-10-inches tall and 56 pounds, the outlet reported. Stewart claimed Brandon was wearing his football uniform at the time.

“We must acknowledge that a case of mistaken identity occurred. Our officers provided an explanation and an apology to the mother and her son,” police said in a statement. “Our department has been in contact with the mother since the incident. We recognize the impact that police interactions can have on our community members.”

Regardless of the apology, Stewart said she and her son are traumatized. They are both afraid to drive on the highway and are now hyper-aware of police presences. Brandon refuses to sit in the front seat, and only rides in the back where he feels safer.

Stewart has maintained that police should be “ashamed” of the mistake “because that could have ended badly.”

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ABC News reported the juvenile suspect is still at large. It is unclear if there will be disciplinary action against police who pulled over Stewart and her son, as investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Stewart is considering legal action against the Sacramento Police Department.