TAMPA — Police officials have addressed a video shared on Twitter that shows officers on Saturday physically separating a woman from her five children on the streets of downtown.
The video, which was posted on Twitter just before 1:30 p.m., showed one male officer trying to physically restrain the woman against a construction fence. At her side is a small girl.
A second male officer was holding another girl in one hand while trying to push back three young boys who appeared to be trying to take the girl from the officer.
In a second apparently related video, screaming can be heard as officers try to restrain someone in the back of a police sport-utility vehicle. Another officer was seen holding back small children.
When the Tampa Bay Times reached out to the Tampa Police Department for an explanation of the events depicted in the video, officials said officers were dealing with a woman “under severe mental distress.”
The department said it received a report at about 12:40 p.m. of a mother “in apparent distress” walking in the roadway near N Ashley Drive and W Tyler Street with five barefoot children.
When officers arrived, police said she “refused assistance while walking in and out of traffic.”
The department described what happened next:
“Officers intervened when the mother attempted to walk on the interstate out of concern for the safety of her and her children.
“Officers attempted to detain the mother for her safety after her repeated attempts to enter the interstate.”
“While doing so, the children were not wanting to be separated from their mother. Officers were trying to prevent the children from being harmed while trying to detain the mother.”
The woman was not arrested, police said. She was taken to a local hospital to undergo observation. The children were also taken to the hospital to be with their mother, according to police.
No one was injured in the incident, the department said.
The woman’s name was not released by police. The Times was not able to identify or locate the woman to speak to her.