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9-year-old boy involved in controversial traffic stop with San Diego police speaks out

"I was thinking I was going to die," Anthony Fuller Jr. said. San Diego police, however, say that the officer never pointed a firearm at the child.

SAN DIEGO — A 9-year-old boy who was involved in a controversial traffic stop last Tuesday in Hillcrest is coming forward, saying that he thought he was going to die as he was ordered out of his dad's car while a San Diego Police officer had a gun drawn. 

Police say that the firearm was never pointed at the boy, who was the sole passenger in the car and released body camera footage of the incident to support their case. 

A spokesman for the San Diego Police Department also said that they understand the emotional impact this had on the father and son involved.

That father, Anthony Fuller Sr., told News 8 that he is coming forward because he wants to push for policy changes in the way San Diego police treat children during traffic stops.   

"It was like traumatizing for me because I thought that they were going to shoot me," said 9-year-old Anthony Fuller Jr. 

"It turned into a life or death situation for me and my son," Anthony Fuller Sr. said.

Last Tuesday, police say that Fuller Sr. was spotted by an officer allegedly speeding 70 miles per hour in a 40-mile-per-hour zone in Hillcrest.

San Diego Police said that they tried to pull Fuller Sr. over, turning on their emergency lights and siren, but he failed to stop.

Believing the driver was attempting to evade police, the officer called for immediate assistance, as is protocol for what authorities call "a high-risk vehicle stop," meaning they believe they could be facing a potentially dangerous situation.

Fuller Sr. finally pulled over at Park and Upas. 

"If he was behind me for a third of a mile, I didn't realize it," Fuller, Sr. said. "I didn't hear them until he turned that loud siren on and I said, 'Oh crap, we're getting pulled over.' And I pulled over immediately."

Fuller Sr. and his son said that an officer pointed his gun at the 9-year-old as he got out of the car.  

"They were like saying to my dad that they weren't pointing the gun at me, which clearly to me - and he saw it - that they were pointing the gun directly at my face. And I was like afraid for my life," the boy said. 

San Diego police, however, contend that the gun was not pointed at the child, and later released body-cam footage to make their case.

A spokesman for the department said, "The officer never pointed his firearm at the child and maintained his aim at the vehicle."

"When he got out of the car, they still had the gun on him," Fuller Sr. countered. "When he started to move up a little bit, he did move the gun away, but for the window of time before that happened the gun was directly on him." 

Officers later tried to explain the situation to Anthony Jr., an interaction that was also captured on body cam. 

In the meantime, the Fullers say there was no reason for this to have happened to a 9-year-old.

"I was thinking I was going to die," Anthony Fuller Jr. said. 

Anthony Fuller Sr. was ultimately issued a misdemeanor traffic citation for reckless driving, which he says he plans to contest.

He also alleged that he believes the stop was racially motivated. San Diego Police strongly refute that, saying that there is no place for racial profiling in their department. 

The San Diego Police Department issued the following statement to News 8:

"We understand the emotional impact last week's traffic stop had on Mr. Fuller and his young son.  In response to our community's concerns, San Diego PD released a portion of body worn camera video to provide information regarding a photo of the traffic stop that was being shared on social media. In the video, the officers state in the moment the reason why this otherwise routine moving violation turned into a high-risk traffic stop – a car was speeding and the driver failed to pull over after lights and sirens were initiated.   We have no reason to believe Mr. Fuller was pulled over because of his race nor is there any place for racial profiling in our department. Further evidence, including additional body worn camera video, will be submitted as evidence in a court of law where the case will go through due process." (Shawn Takeuchi, SDPD spokesman)

Watch: Body cam video sparks protest at SDPD headquarters

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