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A Justice System off the Rails?

A seven year old boy – let me repeat that, a seven year old boy – was handcuffed and interrogated by a NYPD detective for approximately 10 hours.  What was the boy accused of, you ask?  It was not slashing someone with a box-cutter, it wasn’t carrying a loaded firearm in his book-bag, and it wasn’t threatening to blow up the school with an IED.  No, young Wilson Reyes was accused of taking $5 in lunch money after it fell to the ground in front of him.  Seven years old – $5.00 whole dollars – interrogated for 10 hours.  Please, Detective, whoever you are, tell us there is more to the story than this.

According to the NYPD, officers responded to the elementary school after receiving a report of an assault and robbery.  During this crack investigation, the finger was pointed at young Wilson Reyes by another student who claimed that Wilson took his lunch money.  Soon thereafter, Wilson Reyes was cuffed, carted to the local precinct, and interrogated, allegedly over the course of ten hours.  At the conclusion, the robbery charges against Wilson were dropped and the NYPD is now investigating why and how a seven year old was treated like a violent felon.

In response to what happened to Wilson, the Reyes family has filed a $250 million dollar lawsuit against the city and the NYPD.  Is that number excessive?  Of course it is, and they will likely never see anything near that (luckily for the tax-payers, who will bear the financial brunt of this foolishness).  However, think about it for a second.  If the allegations are true, and they appear to be just that, the age-old – “he took my lunch money!”-  resulted in a seven year old boy being detained and interrogated by NYPD detectives for ten hours.  By the way, it was later determined that the seven year old in custody was not the seven year old that took the lunch money.  It was the wrong kid!

In this case it’s quite obvious that seven year olds accused of stealing someone’s lunch money shouldn’t be treated like public enemy number one, and that not every law enforcement agent has a whit of common sense.  Sadly, these days, something like this could happen to any of our loved ones.  Even in the most “innocent” of situations you need a good criminal defense attorney; a person who understands how the system should work; not just in the courtroom but during the investigation process.  If you ever have questions about criminal law and procedures, feel free to call us at 516-294-0300.

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