Black Teen Incarcerated for Days After Judge’s Release Order Despite No Probable Cause: Lawsuit

Illustration for article titled Black Teen Incarcerated for Days After Judge’s Release Order Despite No Probable Cause: Lawsuit
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A San Francisco mother has filed a lawsuit alleging that the city kept her teenage son locked in a cell for days even though a judge determined that there was no reason that the boy should have been arrested in the first place and ordered his release.


On June 29, 2017, Tureko Straughter’s 15-year-old son was booked into a juvenile detention center after being arrested for a nonviolent property crime, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The same day, at 2 p.m., San Francisco Superior Court Judge Braden Woods found “there was not sufficient probable cause” for the teen’s arrest. So Woods released the child to his mother.

But according to court documents, one probation detention officer, Samuel Nwigwe, concluded that the child had given officers a fake name. Nwigwe assumed that the boy somehow changed his criminal record to reflect that he had no prior arrest history.

The officer found it suspicious that another child had the same birth date, last name and address as the boy in custody. So Nwigwe decided to keep the juvenile mastermind locked up, defying the judge’s order to set the teenager free.

It turns out that Tureko Straugter has twins.

Straughter went to see her son for three tightly supervised 45-minute visits during his detention. The teen slept in a locked cell for four days before he was granted release by Woods during another hearing July 3.

Straughter filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department, Chief Probation Officer Allen Nance, three San Francisco Police Department officers, and the city and county of San Francisco. The complaint alleges that her son was subjected to physical discomfort and mental and emotional injuries during his juvenile detention. The suit cites “mental anguish, emotional distress, feelings of unjust treatment, reputational harm, fear, anxiety, humiliation, and trauma.”

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My advice to her is don’t settle. Go to court. Make it public. Too often when these things happen and a suit is filed, they settle and sign NDAs as a part of the settlement. We need to stop doing. I know it’s easy or me to say that but it needs to be done.