Nia Whims, 13, was falsely accused of making violent threats to Renaissance Charter School in November 14, resulting in her arrest. Whims’ family plans to file a lawsuit against the school and the police department involved, reported ABC News. It took two weeks for police to find she was not guilty.
The 7th grader was connected to a thread of messages featuring bomb threats, suicidal thoughts and threats to harm staff members, per the Miami Herald. The messages were posted on an Instagram under Whims’ name.
From the Miami Herald:
The messages were disclosed to the teacher, who then informed the police, the suit reads. The next day, and after “no immediate threat to students, staff or to the school” was determined, Pembroke Pines police arrested Whims. She was detained in a juvenile detention facility.
She underwent a psychological evaluation a few days later, and the doctor who did the evaluation said Whims “did not exhibit any behavior that would form the basis for [being] incarcerated, nor did she evidence any reason to believe that she was a danger to herself or others,” according to the lawsuit. The doctor also said Whims insisted she did not send the messages.
It took 14 days until Pembroke Pines police found the IP address from the messages belonged to a different device, reported the Miami Herald. The name of the student at fault has not been released but they have been charged, according to Pembroke Pines police. The family attorney, Marwan Porter, said the incident caused “emotional and psychological injury and mental distress.” Additionally, Whims’ parents claim the police did not contact them while taking Whims into custody.
Per the complaint, Whims was also reported to have experienced bullying at the school, reported ABC. Her mother said because the bullying was so bad she decided to pull Whims from the school just a few days before the incident. After already facing day-to-day battles from her peers, Whims was subject to the traumatic experience of a false arrest.
From ABC News:
Renaissance Charter School did not directly respond to the claims of bullying in the lawsuit, but Colleen Reynolds, a spokesperson for the school, said in a statement, “Our priority is always the safety and security of our students and we immediately involved law enforcement regarding that threat and took all appropriate precautions. We do not discuss any pending litigation, so we cannot comment on the pending lawsuit.”
Whims’ mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, called the experience “traumatizing” for both of them in Tuesday’s interview with ABC News.
“Nobody looked into what damage it did,” she added. “Emotionally, mentally, you know, and she’s still growing. She’s young and she’s growing. So as adults, a lot of things in our past affect us and I think it’s something that will affect her.”
Porter said it’s “naive” to think racial bias didn’t have a part in this incident. “When it comes to our children, law enforcement and our school officials must make sure they do their homework before they put our kids in handcuffs,” said Porter via ABC News Live.
The family also plans to sue Instagram for negligence in allowing another user to create an account to impersonate Whims. The suit totals to a minimum of $30,000 including attorneys fees, reported ABC.