Mike Boynton shared a story with reporters Thursday morning about an experience he had as a youth in Brooklyn, New York, that his parents didn’t know about until a week ago.
As an innocent 12-year-old boy, Boynton had three police officers draw their guns on him while he was riding his bicycle down the sidewalk. It was a story the Oklahoma State men’s basketball coach hadn’t told anyone except his wife until this past week – more than 25 years after the event.
The story only came to light when Boynton posted a message on Twitter in regards to the protests that are happening around the country following the death of George Floyd. In his written message, Boynton said, “I’ve had my own frightening experience with law enforcement, but that is for another day.”
“I don’t know why I never shared it, to be perfectly honest,” Boynton said in the Zoom meeting. “I never told my parents. I think I sent out that message on Friday and it was after a week of really trying to figure out if I even wanted to go there publicly and make a statement, because I knew it had to come from a place of genuineness, and it was personal for me to see what happened.”
Boynton said he was 12 years old and riding his bicycle in the summer time, as he did about five times a week. He was wearing blue shorts and a gray T-shirt.
During his ride through the Brooklyn neighborhood, he began hearing a police siren behind him. But the noise was nothing new, he said, to someone growing up in that area.
“If you’ve ever been in New York City, the sound of a police siren is like birds chirping in many parts of the country,” Boynton said. “It very rarely alarms you, especially if you don’t think you’re part of the situation.”
The siren kept getting closer to Boynton, but he thought there must be an emergency up ahead. Then the driver drove the car over the curb and onto the sidewalk and slammed on the brakes before colliding with Boynton and the bicycle.
Boynton said he jumped off his bike and threw his hands up against a building behind him in a state of confusion.
“I had never seen this before, but I see three officers get out of one police car,” Boynton said. “I only knew that two police officers would be in a car at once. So when three officers jump out, I was really more confused and all of them had their guns drawn. So here I am at 12 years old — I’ll give you this, I looked a little bit older, but I was 12, so it’s not like I looked 28. I may have looked 15. Again, I got on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and I’m riding a bicycle. I clearly don’t have anything in my hands that could be threatening or dangerous to anybody.
“I jump off and up my hands up. One officer comes up and grabs me and shoves me against the building, spreads my legs, does a pat down and they start asking questions that I hardly can make out because I’m so flustered at this point. ‘Where you from? What are you doing here? Where are you going? What’s your name? How old are you? Where’s your I.D.?’ Hardly any of it I can really answer coherently at the moment.”
The fourth-year OSU coach said that may have taken 30 seconds, but felt like forever. The officers start getting calls from other police stations until one of the officers said, “Hey, I think we’re at the wrong place. It sounds like we need to be a couple blocks away.”
That’s when the officer holding Boynton up against the wall told him, “Hey, sorry about that. You fit the description of somebody who we got a call robbed a store here recently.”
“That didn’t necessarily make it better, because even at 12 years old, I was aware that even if I had gone into a store and stolen a bag of potato chips, or I don’t know a candy bar or soda or something, do I need three cops to jump a curb and pull their guns out on me to bring me to justice?” Boynton said.
That experience remained private until late last week when Boynton finally told his father what happened many years ago.
“I never shared that and told my parents about it after it came out,” Boynton said. “My dad called really angry wanting to know what happened. The only person I shared that with was my wife, because we’ve pretty much shared everything we’ve gone through in our lives together. Up until Friday, no one else even knew. I told my team and staff on Monday when we met.”
Following his story, Boynton was asked if any of his players have ever experienced something like that in their lives. He said he hadn’t hear of any such stories.
“No, not to that degree, fortunately,” Boynton said. “It’s not something that I should expect, honestly. The reality is that I know that there are probably a lot of other coaches who have had players who have had an experience like that.
“… So much of this stuff gets swept up in anger and emotion that we fail to hear what people are actually saying.”