A Black Arkansas family is trying to recover weeks after being held at gunpoint by Frisco

As Demetria Heard stood in front of multiple Frisco police officers with their weapons drawn toward her, her husband, their son and nephew on the Dallas North Tollway, she could barely process what was happening.

“All I could hear was aggression,” she recalled.

In late July, the family traveled from Little Rock, Ark. for an AAU tournament. Her son and nephew, both of whom are 13, play on the team that her husband, Myron, coaches.


They were on their way to their first game of the morning July 23 when Frisco police officers stopped them. Heard had done nothing wrong; all of her lights were working, her registration was up to date and she had not violated any traffic laws. When she saw officers with their weapons pointed at her family, Heard knew something wasn’t right.

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One wrong move, she thought, could lead to something terrible. When police put her 13-year-old son in handcuffs, Heard became angry.


“I just can’t get past seeing him with guns to his back,” Heard told the Dallas Morning News on Friday.

Police would tell the family that it was all a mistake. Body-camera footage released by the Frisco Police Department showed that the officer who had submitted Heard’s vehicle information into their system mistakenly did so under Arizona instead of Arkansas, prompting the incorrect belief the vehicle was stolen.

The stop lasted about 30 minutes, but for the family, the experience is having effects on their lives weeks later. The encounter has left them in shock and anger — the two teens involved in the stop have not been acting themselves, their parents told the Morning News. Additionally, the adults affected are traumatized and don’t know if they’ll ever get back their peace of mind.


Some mental health experts and community advocates say anxiety about law enforcement is heightened for any Black Americans because of the racism experienced from police and the criminal justice system

“In so many Black families, the idea is ‘you have to get out alive,’” said Nicole Cammack, a Washington D.C.-based clinical psychologist.

In this image taken from police body camera video released by the Frisco, Texas, Police Department, a police officer displays his weapon during after stopping a vehicle on July 23, 2023. Demetria Heard, a Black woman from Arkansas who was held at gunpoint along with three family members when Texas police wrongly suspected their car was stolen said Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, that she decided to speak out after seeing video from a passerby and realizing two officers had aimed firearms at her 13-year-old son while his hands were up. Police in the Dallas suburb have apologized and acknowledged that during the traffic stop, an officer misread the Dodge Charger’s license plate as the family left a hotel to go to a basketball tournament. (Frisco Police Department via AP)(Uncredited / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Myron Heard says he still relives the moment when an officer told him “to be smart” or that they would open fire.

“If I would have reached for my phone, or reached back to pat my nephew to let him know it’s OK, they shoot the car up and shoot both of us, We ride off in the coroner van, and they would have to come explain to my wife and my son that we are dead because they typed in the wrong state,” Myron Heard said alongside his wife. “That’s what I think about.”

Frisco police declined to be interviewed for this report. In a written statement, the department said it is reviewing its procedure for high risk stops. The department is also emphasizing to officers during patrol briefings that they “ensure the information is accurate before conducting a traffic stop,” the statement read.

Dia Nicholson, Myron Heard’s sister and the mother of the second 13-year-old boy in the vehicle, said the family has always respected law enforcement officers. Her trust in police has been tainted by this experience, Nicholson said.

“You think, ‘We’re good because we’re not breaking any laws,’” she said. “But now it’s like, ‘Oh, we’re still Black,’ so we got to keep that on the back of our minds.”


Nicholson’s husband Jason said he has seen stories and social media posts about people, many of whom are Black, being targeted by police. Despite this, he taught his son to respect police officers and to not treat them like they are the enemy.

“My biggest fear is how [my son] going to look at [police] after this, how he’s going to view them as he gets older. Will he become rebellious toward them, will he be filled with anger because of what happened to him? That’s the biggest issue I have right now,” he said.

The Nicholsons and the Heards said they don’t know how long the healing process will take. What they do know is that they don’t plan on driving through Frisco again.


“I can’t help but to always think about what it could have been, and honestly I can’t understand why this happened to us,” Demetria Heard said.

A call report showed that police conducted a ”felony stop” about five minutes after the initial officer erroneously called in a possible stolen vehicle.

Officers are recommended to “continue to treat the driver and passengers professionally,” in the case they have to initiate a felony stop, also known as a high-risk stop, according to training material on the Texas Police Chiefs Association website. The training gives guidance on how to handle minors as well, stating, “reassure children and other occupants in the vehicle who may be frightened by the presence of an officer.”


It also says officers should “treat the driver and other occupants like you or a member of your family would want to be treated.”

Olga Chavez, a Frisco police spokeswoman, said it is standard procedure for Frisco police to draw their weapons for high-risk stops. It is not standard procedure to do so “when dealing with the average traffic violator,” she added.

In a written statement July 28, Frisco Police Chief David Shilson said he understands why Heard and her family are upset.

“Our department will not hide from its mistakes. Instead, we will learn from them,” Shilson wrote. “The officer involved quickly accepted responsibility for what happened, which speaks to integrity.”


Cammack, in addition to her private psychology practice, leads a company called Black Mental Wellness. Her work is focused on mental health issues specific to the Black community, and addressing racial trauma and stress. The Heards and Nicholsons said they are seeking therapy after the encounter.

The family will need time and space to heal, Cammack said. Parents could feel that they’ve lost control, as the lives of their children were placed in danger even though they did nothing wrong. The children may feel like they don’t have a place where they are truly safe, leading to changes in sleeping habits, appetite and overall behavior, she added.


“It’s not just what happened in that moment,” Cammack said. “But how is this showing up in all of their lives? It’s not just the memory, but your body almost responds as if the action that caused the trauma is still happening.”

Jerry Hawkins, executive director of Dallas Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, said he thinks the family’s encounter with police is shows why law enforcement agencies have lost public trust.

He said he was surprised that the department issued an apology and admitted to its mistake, but added that it should help financially with the costs associated with coping with and healing from the experience.

“Police departments already spend millions of dollars on training every year and it has not stopped them from killing innocent people or making mistakes like this,” Hawkins said.

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