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Teenager beaten up by cops after bank teller mistook erection for pistol? No, story false

An image from a newspaper cutout showing a young man’s swollen face has been making the rounds on Facebook.

It claims that police beat up a teenager at a bank after a teller mistook the young man’s erection for a pistol. It’s unclear from the post where this is supposed to have taken place. 

A Google search of this headline leads to a story on the website World News Daily Report that claimed a teenager in Detroit, USA, had been shot at and beaten by police.

“A 17-year-old teenager is now lying in critical condition at the Detroit Medical Center after he was believed to be attempting a holdup at the Detroit Liberty Bank and was shot at twelve times by police officers. Jamal Freeman was brutally beaten by six police officers after trying to flee the scene until he surrendered and was arrested six blocks away, report officials,” the website said.

According to the story, “Camera footage showed that the young man was apparently in full erection while waiting in line and thus confused the bank teller in thinking he was concealing a weapon in his pants.”

This story has been published by multiple Kenyan entertainment sites and been shared by Ugandan radio stations.

But is this a true story? We checked.


Clue of hoax in website banner

The slogan of World News Daily Report is “Where facts don’t matter”. It is clearly a satirical website, confirmed by a disclaimer running across the bottom of every page on its website. 

It says: “World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.”

Real victim

A reverse image search of the photo illustrating the fake story on TinEye shows the injured young man is called Jordan Miles.

Miles was beaten by police officers in Pittsburgh, USA, on 12 January 2010 and the story was covered around the USA. The police said they beat Miles because they thought that a soda bottle in his front pocket was a gun.

Africa Check found the image of Jordan Miles was online as early as 25 January 2010, on Freddyo, a celebrity gossip website. It says the photo was taken by Miles’s mother. 

The image also appeared on the digital news site TribLive, but credited to Jasmine Goldband. The caption notes that it shows Miles in hospital on 13 January 2019, a day after he was beaten. 

Africa Check reached out to Goldband who is now a photo editor at the US newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, to ask about the source of the photo. 

Goldband confirmed that the photo had come from the Miles family. “Yes. I visited Jordan’s home in Pittsburgh and his family shared that photo with me. The photo credit should read ‘Courtesy of Jordan Miles’,” she told Africa Check. – Grace Gichuhi


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