She also told CBS News that she's a single mother of six who doesn't play when it comes to her children.
In video captured Monday by CNN affiliate WMAR
, Graham is seen pulling her masked son away from a protest crowd, smacking him in the head repeatedly, and screaming at him.
Graham told CBS News that her son said he wanted to run when he saw her coming.
"I'm a no-tolerant mother. Everybody who knows me, knows I don't play that," Graham told the network. "He knew. He knew he was in trouble."
Graham told CBS News that she and her son made eye contact and she didn't even think about the news cameras when she went after her boy.
"That's my only son and at the end of the day I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray," she told CBS. "I was angry. I was shocked, because you never want to see your child out there doing that."
On the video the boy -- dressed in dark pants and a black hoodie -- tries to walk away, she follows him, screaming, "Get the f--- over here!"
Eventually, he turns toward her, his face no longer covered.
Graham said when she arrived at Mondawmin Mall, she saw people throwing objects at police. She said what she saw could not be called protesters out for justice.
Tameka Brown, one of Graham's five daughters, told CNN on Tuesday it wasn't that hard for her mom to spot her 16-year-old brother.
"She knows her son and picked him out. Even with the mask on, she knew," Brown said.
Her brother is actually grateful that his mom came to get him, she said. He understands Graham did it because she wants to keep her son alive.
"She has always been tough and knows where we are at," Brown said.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts thanked her in remarks to the media on Monday night.
"And if you saw in one scene you had one mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed," he said. "I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids out there tonight."
Graham told CBS that at times she tells her son to stay inside.
"There are some days I'll shield him in the house just so he won't go outside. And I know I can't do that for the rest of my life. He's 16 years old, you know," she said.