Baltimore Mom Caught on Video Hitting Son: “I Don't Want Him to Be a Freddie Gray”

A mother caught on video smacking her 16-year-old son after he threw objects at police says she hadn't wanted her son "to be a Freddie Gray," the man whose death in police custody has sparked protests across Baltimore.

Toya Graham, a single mother of six, told CBS News that as soon as she made eye contact with him, he knew he was in trouble.

"I'm a no-tolerant mother. Everybody that knows me know I don't play that," Graham told CBS. "He said, 'when I seen you,' he said, 'ma, my instinct was to run.'"

Graham received wide praise on social media and even from the Baltimore police commissioner, who said more parents should have taken charge of their children like Graham did after the riots started. But Graham said her discipline was for her son's own sake.

"That's my only son, and at the end of the day, I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray," she said.

Graham said she saw her only son wearing a hoodie and mask amid protesters demonstrating just hours after a funeral for Gray, a black man who died after suffering an unexplained spinal injury in police custody.

"At that point, I just lost it," she said. "I was shocked, I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that."

Graham said she and her son watched news coverage of the riots together. And then the images of her reaction went viral. Comments started appearing on her son's Facebook page, many in support of her, she said.

"Friends and everybody making comments and saying, 'you know, you shouldn't be mad at your mother, you should give her a hug,'" Graham said.

She hopes it will be a teachable moment.

"And by him seeing everything what's going on I just hope, I'm not sure, but I hope that he understands the seriousness of what was going on last night," she said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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