New York Sued Over Arrest And Interrogation Of Seven-Year-Old Boy Over Missing $5 Bill At School

800px-New_five_dollar_billWilson Reyes is one of those hardened criminals who are hard to break. Police handcuffed Reyes, threw him in a cruiser, and interrogated him for a reported ten hours. Yet, Reyes insisted he was innocent and had to be released . . . to his mother. The seven-year-old boy was accused of stealing $5 on a playground at his school.

The family’s account is contained in a complaint, detailing the case against New York and the Bronx police. It began when a kid dropped $5 on the playground — money that was going to be used on a canceled field trip. When a kid fingered Reyes, he was dragged to the principal’s office after being yanked from class. He was then handcuffed by Bronx police and grilled for ten hours.

Before being hauled off to the police station, Reyes was held in custody for four hours at PS X114. He was then taken to the 44th Precinct station house for another six hours of interrogation.

What is most disturbing is that the parents say that police would not allow them to see their child while in custody. When they did, they found him handcuffed to a wall.

When cops finally allowed the pair to see the boy, they found the panicked kid seated in a shabby chair with his left wrist cuffed to the wall, Mendez said.

The police later dropped the robbery charge against the seven-year-old. Police insist that he was held for half the time stated by the family. That would still be five hours for $5.

In the meantime, another classmate admitted to taking the $5.

Now Reyes is seeking $250 million claim against the city and the NYPD. That seems a bit high by about $249,750,000. However, if these facts are proven, some liability would seem warranted. What is also warranted is a review of the judgment and decisions of these teachers and administrators in turning this into a criminal matter. We have discussed how states like Mississippi are now using police where simple parent-teacher meetings were once used. We are criminalizing our schools — and our students. It is part of a general criminalization of America that now starts in elementary school.

Source: NY Post

41 thoughts on “New York Sued Over Arrest And Interrogation Of Seven-Year-Old Boy Over Missing $5 Bill At School

  1. I saw this story and was shocked. To handcuff and bring a 7 year old to the police station over allegations involving $5.00 is disgusting and amazing. The city and the school district should get ready to dig deep into their pockets. This boy could be scarred for life over this event. I had a similar experience with a juvenile cop, but I was in 3rd or 4th grade and the nuns put me in a dimly lit storage room in the school to be interrogated by this officer. As you can see, I remember everything about that sad experience.

  2. The poor conduct on behalf of the administrators and police aside, I find the concept of migrating schooling issues to the police interesting. And although I recognize many bad decisions by school administrators, particularly recently, I wonder to what degree their poor decisions are driven by frustration with parents inadequate and inattentive parenting.

  3. I hope they get millions, because that is what it will take to make an impression on city management. Let the city lose, and then they can bargain for the cop that was in charge of the 44th to be demoted, replaced, or fired. It isn’t a question about how much the Reyes deserve, it is a question of how much money it takes before the city and police will police themselves.

  4. I wrote an article called “The King of Ruffle Bar and the Insanity of Bureaucracy” not long ago which goes into this topic. Basically, for some reason, the west has a tendency to seek bureaucratic neatness in everything that it does, regardless of whether or not it makes any sense. It’s something unique to the west as well; other cultures don’t have these problems.

  5. A seven year old kid. That seven word has an n on the end. In dog years he would be 49. The cop who handcuffed him to the wall was not required to do so, and therefore he needs to be handcuffed to the wall, same one, for say 49 years. Arbitrary you may say. Yeah. Turnabout is fair play on the playground and in the pigsty.

  6. In Saudia Arabia they would hand cuff a seven year old for not respecting the Koran. Here in NYC they worship money.

  7. itchinBayDog: You have to bark into that Dogologue Machine more precisely. Dont bark like the New York dog that you are. It is 33rd Street and 3rd Avenue. No turds. The machine prints it out according to the barking accent.

  8. When we have cops who hold/terrify a 7 year old boy for a minimum of 5 hours (if you believe their story), then we have a deep societal problem.

    The police mentality that either sees nothing wrong in these actions or does not speak up when witnessing a moral and legal wrong is frightening.

    Suggest that legal and ethics training be provided (with dismissal for those cops who “do not get it”) to all police.

    Also, some history (Nuremberg Trials) would be appropriate.

    We are seeing a consequence of the War on Terror – civil rights are being diminished; as is compassion and common sense.

  9. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If your a cop, everyone looks like a criminal. Common sense isn’t so common anymore.

  10. The kid was guilty of the crime of growing up as a person of color. As for the handcuffing what threat did this child pose to the police officers that needed restraint? They were stupidly and sadistically teaching him a lesson that will unfortunately stay with him for a lifetime.

  11. Tony C. 1, January 31, 2013 at 11:05 am

    … It isn’t a question about how much the Reyes deserve, it is a question of how much money it takes before the city and police will police themselves.

  12. If the school and the police thought that treating a 7 year old with “scared straight” tactics, I’ll wager in a few years this child likely will demonstrate angry/agressive/anti-social behavior, exactly the opposite reaction intended.

  13. Where does this Pirate Territory called New York City begin, and where does it end? What are the boundaries? Does it include Long Island? Do the neighboring territories have a navy nearby that curtails sea piracy? Boat dogs need to know.

  14. MikeS, Race, class, etc. are too often in play when cops behave badly. However, to cavalierly play that card w/o any evidence provided here is also wrong.

  15. Steve Fleischer
    1, January 31, 2013 at 11:29 am
    When we have cops who hold/terrify a 7 year old boy for a minimum of 5 hours (if you believe their story), then we have a deep societal problem.
    where the hell have you been?

  16. Let’s not forget the actions of the cops were initiated by school administrators, a collective of equally-culpable dumbasses, but with master’s degrees. I’d say it should be a 50/50 split when compensation is granted.

  17. While I can understand the comment “I hope they get millions”, the problem is the taxpayers pay the penalty. I wish the actual guilty parties were the ones who had to pay the penalty or at least shared the expense.

    My 9-year old said If the family gets millions, he wants me to offer $500,000 to a police officer to hold him for several hours as long as he gets over 50% of the take.

  18. Here’s an article containing a picture of the poor kid while handcuffed. The article also mentions that another student was proven to be the thief…though there’s no picture or name, so we can’t tell the skin of the actual miscreant, only the kid who was assumed guilty.

    If I were falsely accused in such a situation, I’d sue for nine figures with one caveat: For every pi…uh, “cop” involved who pleads guilty (wrongful arrest, assault, false imprisonment, etc.) and gets significant time in prison, I would drop my claim by $10-20 million. Make the swine fall on their swords if they actually believe they are “serving the public interest”.

  19. Balanced

    Do you call yourself balanced?
    Did you see the movie “Brazil”. You seem straight from it.

    Show me a non-frustrated teacher because of inattentive parents, and I’ll show you one that has only worked 6 months.

    And the rules are straight out of a English “public” school.

    As someone said, that bears repeating, we adults can not agree on gun control so let’s take it out on the kids. I wonder what list of no-no’s are sent out to the parents before school commencement.
    Is it thin and mean, or thick and sick?

  20. What a sham. Speaking stricktly from practical terms:

    What police department would waste the time and resources to interrogate an adult for six hours over a five dollar theft? It would last maybe a few minutes and then a citation would be issued.

    Why would a custodial arrest be made for a theft such as this for a 7 year old juvenile? In many states, I don’t know if NY is one of them, the state must prove in a hearing before a judge a child of this age had sufficient culpability to be guilty of the crime from maturity point of view. This age in our state is only 1 year above the age which a child cannot be held for any crime due to age.

    Handcuffing him to a wall for an extended period of time is unwarranted. How violent could he have been?

  21. Why didn´t the teacher just tell the kid who lost the $5 that he should have taken better care of his money? It would have been a lesson for life for that child. Did the “victim” have the serial number of his $5 bill? Or was everyone at the school who had a $5 bill a suspect?

  22. “How would you feel if (the boy) was your child or your grandchild?” lawyer Jack Yankowitz said in a press release. “What happened is a travesty of justice.
    “If (this) 7-year-old and his mother lived on 64th and Park and he attended a $35,000-a-year private school, do you think (he) would have been arrested, handcuffed to a wall and denied access to his mother and legal counsel for 10 hours?” NYP I say no way would a Caucasian child from the upper east side be treated in this manner.

  23. Kinda amazing the kid didn’t confess to whatever the cops wanted him to after what they put the kid through. Seems like the abusive treatment from the cops is likely the result of the kid not caving to pressure. So they just piled on more pressure to teach him a lesson. Unfortunately that lesson is to obey and fear authority.

  24. Bernard: While I can understand the comment “I hope they get millions”, the problem is the taxpayers pay the penalty.

    Hopefully they will have to pay the penalty, then the taxpayers will be angry with their politicians and police and demand that some changes be made.

    By your logic, the police should never be sued for anything, ever, no matter how wrong they were, because if they lose “the taxpayers pay the penalty.”

    Besides, effectively the police do pay the price, because when they lose their leaders get yelled at, reprimanded, fired, or at least yelled at.

  25. Of course, everybody should be aware that the “facts” of this case as cited in the NY Post are really allegations, not facts at this point. In short, you are only hearing the plaintiff side of this story. Thus, for example, to cite just one “fact,” the “six hours of interogation” may be an exaggeration. That said, there’s still no reasonable explanation for handcuffing the kid.

  26. Ralph, reading the story, the cops do not dispute that they arrested the kid, handcuffed him, charged him with robbery, held him at school for some undetermined time and then took him to the police station where he was held for close to five hours–all over a playground incident between seven-year olds at school. Even if nothing else that is alleged is true, that still seems like an outrageous response by police.

  27. NickS,

    I’m a New Yorker, you aren’t. This kid was from the Bronx with a Latino last name. The kid comes from what is known as the South Bronx/Tremont area. It is a lower income area where 65% of the people earn $30,000 or less, which in NYC makes you relatively poor. The area’s population is almost 3/4 Black or Latino. Now the area is far less dangerous than in 1980 and 1981, when I covered it as a case manager in my placement year in Grad School and it was called “Fort Apache” by the police (remember the awful Paul Newman movie?) and there are some nice venues within it. However, I can guarantee you that this wouldn’t have happened to a kid living in the Riverdale Section of the Bronx.

  28. “In Saudia Arabia they would hand cuff a seven year old for not respecting the Koran. Here in NYC they worship money.”

    Actually in Saudi Arabia, they’d cut off his hand for stealing, Dog, although they usually don’t use that sentence for petty theft. Blasphemy, which they consider a form of apostasty, can get you the death penalty. I don’t know if they’ve ever killed a child for it, but they have killed teenagers for it.

  29. OT OT OT Maybe….

    Let’s leave the child and his plight, which symbolizes our situation, for a moment.

    Read Rep Alan Grayson’s latest email on tea baggers in general and specifically the Republican he recently defeated. He is a pithy guy, but here he lay’s it out. It is our constitution they want to change. And some on the Democrat side agree with the baggers.

    “A few days ago, I pointed out that the House Republicans’ five-page bill to raise the debt ceiling offends two different provisions in the Constitution. I wish this were an isolated instance. It’s not.

    Most House Republicans are Tea Partiers, and Tea Partiers are in love with three things:
    1.those three-sided felt hats;
    2.those overly snug vests with lots and lots of brass buttons; and
    3.calling themselves “constitutional conservatives.”

    In my last campaign, the loser (in every sense of the word) who ran against me painted himself as a “constitutional conservative.” He swore that his only goal was to return to the governing principles of our Founding Fathers. But as far as I could tell, the only part of the original Constitution that he liked was the part about black slaves counting as only three-fifths of a human being.

    For months, I had to listen to the unhinged “constitutional” rants of that right-wing crank. Here is a list of some of the all-too-familiar Tea Party proposals he made that are blatantly unconstitutional:
    1.banning abortion;
    2.mandatory school prayer;
    3.a national sales tax;
    4.Congressional term limits;
    5.state rejection of federal laws;
    6.forcing criminal defendants to speak English;
    7.taxpayer dollars for religious schools;
    8.drug testing for federal benefits;
    9.discrimination against naturalized citizens; and
    10.state-by-state immigration policies.

    The worst part of this is that he fancied himself quite the constitutional scholar, thank-you-very-much. But he must have slept through his law school course on constitutional law. Every single one of these proposals is unconstitutional, and unequivocally unconstitutional, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. But this same Tea Party acolyte did not hesitate to declare Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, federal aid to schools, student loans, paper money and – of course – Obamacare all unconstitutional. Why? Because he said so.

    And don’t even get me started on his obsession over the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Apparently, he never noticed that under our Constitution, the federal government can:
    1.force you to fill out a census form;
    2.force you to serve on a jury;
    3.force you to hand in your gold;
    4.force you to give 91% of your income to it (under the Republican Eisenhower Administration);
    5.force you to hand over your property in return for what it considers “just compensation”; and you on the basis of your birthday (!), drag you halfway around the world, and then force you to get your legs blown off, fighting the Vietnamese.

    And I’m supposed to believe that this same government can’t get you to pay for your own emergency room care, or charge you what it costs if you don’t? Come on.

    Look, they don’t own the American flag, they don’t own God, and they don’t own Constitution, either. It’s our Constitution.

    I invite my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to sit down and read – at least those who know how to read – the document that they have sworn to uphold. In less time than they would waste listening to Sean Hannity’s errant nonsense one evening, they can get through the whole thing.

    There’s some interesting stuff in there. For instance, it’s pretty clear that the Founding Fathers did not contemplate a standing army, much less an army standing in Kabul. And I invite you to show me exactly where it says in there that our military can occupy a foreign country.

    But that’s the real Constitution, not the fake one in their heads. Their version reads like Humpty Dumpty’s: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.'”


    Congressman Alan Grayson

  30. MikeS, No one here has all the facts. You have made some assumptions, that as I stated may very well be true. It happens everywhere, not just NYC. You don’t KNOW what happened, although you are acting like you do. Just admit it and let’s be done w/ it.

  31. I am sorry “balanced” but you are anything but. There was no mention of the parents being negligent in any way regarding their child’s behaviour. Rather than desperately attempting to absolve the obviously incompetent teacher/administration of the school, you ridiculously attempt to deflect the blame into the victims, namely the parents. What justification rattles around in your vacuous mind I have no idea but, to be honest, I would’ve be surprised to find out that you are a very bad teacher who is unhappy with their lot in life but too cowardly, unqualified or plain unintelligent to make a change. Fool…

  32. Nick,

    They handcuffed the kid.

    By their own statement he was detained 4 hours.

    Their actions were beyond absurd and you know it. You are talking about an area of NYC, with which I’m quite familiar and a City PD that I’ve worked with and provided training for. This would not have happened to a 7 year old in the almost contiguous section known as Riverdale. That is my informed opinion and I’ll stick with it. Of course if you think there was s prudent explanation for the polices behavior I’m all ears.

    I find it peculiar that almost every srgument you make is personally anecdotal, yet only claim that right for yourself.

  33. Nick,

    My impression is that you confidently make judgements based on your experiences that happened years ago in various United States locales. Seems to me Mike S. should be allowed to play by the same rules.

  34. sue! i hope you win big time! what a sick world we live in! i once swiped a kids pen, the teacher had us put our heads down on the desk and the guilty person, me returned the pen to the teacher and life went on. for sure when i got home mom and dad beat the hell out of me!

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