NYPD Handcuff 7-Year-Old Boy Over Missing $5

New York City police handcuffed and “interrogated” 7-year-old Wilson Reyes for hours on December 4, after a playground dispute in which $5 went missing. Wilson’s family alleges that he was held at the 44th Precinct ststioj house in the Bronx for a total of ten hours during which he was handcuffed to a metal bar, says the New York Post.

Rather excessive treatment of an elementary school student who was not guilty of any wrongdoing and certainly of no criminal action.

According to the New York Post, $5 belonging to another student that was to be used for a cancelled school trip “had fallen on the ground” in front of Wilson and two other boys. One boy took the money; Wilson was falsely accused of doing so as a result of which he “scuffled” with one of the other boys.

NYPD police appeared at PS X114 around 10:20 am. Wilson was handcuffed and held in a room at the school for four hours. After that, he was taken to the police station and, according to a lawsuit his family has filed, was held there until his mother, Frances Mendez, picked him up. “My son was crying, ‘Mommy, it wasn’t me! Mommy, it wasn’t me!’ I never imagined the cops could do that to a child. We’re traumatized,” she says to the New York Post.

According to Mendez, she and her sister were first not allowed to see Wilson when they were to the police station to pick him up. She also says that her son’s insistence that he was innocent was ignored.

These concerns are apparent in the family’s lawsuit, which contends that her young son “was handcuffed and verbally, physically and emotionally abused, intimidated, humiliated, embarrassed and defamed.”

On December 26, the charges against Wilson were dropped. An NYPD inspector says the family’s version of events is “grossly untrue in many respects, including fabrication as to how long the child was held in the precinct which was less than half of the time mentioned.” Law enforcement offiicials also say that “We responded to a 911 call of a robbery and assault . . . Eventually, [Wilson] was taken back to the precinct and placed in the juvenile room.”

Specifically, Wilson was charged with robbery, punching another child and taking the child’s money “forcibly.” The 3 hours and 45 minutes the police say that Wilson was held in the precinct house for were described as “standard for a juvenile arrest.”

What’s missing from all this is any acknowledgement of Wilson’s young age — he is seven years old — and of why the school went right to the step of calling 911 regarding what the New York Post says was a dispute among students. What is going on at our schools when an altercation at an elementary school is referred directly to law enforcement?

There have been other, and too many, cases of students handcuffed at school by law enforcement personnel who had been summoned by the schools. Why Wilson was taken from school grounds to a police station and questioned for so many hours, and over $5, is simply excessive and all the more for a child in elementary school.

Schools themselves need to have policies and protocols in place to address such incidents. Even more, they should devote their energies to being pro-active and teaching students ways to resolve conflicts that do not involve fighting or other physical actions. There was no need to traumatize a 7-year-old boy who, as it turned out, had done nothing wrong.

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Photo from Thinkstock


Marie Seltenrych
Marie Seltenrych4 years ago

Back to the dark ages here. Time to think with our heads for our children's sake. These are our fathers and mothers of tomorrow... Why not reason with the child as much as possible, or even better, find out what is going wrong in his or her life. A little bit of human kindness could be in order here and in every school.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

annie s.
christine s4 years ago

Has the world gone mad ???.

Melissa L.
Melissa L4 years ago

Absolutly horrifying!

Ann B.
Ann B4 years ago

I agree with Cathie S. no child especially a 7 year old should be handcuffed and interrogated without their parent(s) in attendance. This could have been handled differently.

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M4 years ago

I am wondering if we got the whole story? - that maybe this 7 yr old is a bully. I disagree of the Scared Straight method, at any rate he spent 1/2 the time the inspector said, which is still 22 hrs. It would have been better if a police officer was called, and the boy was taken to the principal's office, where he could have been talked to about stealing and bullying, and what it is like to go to jail.

Lisa D.
Lisa D4 years ago

& dont you think its weird that this story did not mention the $250million the kid's mum is trying to get out of the whole situation??
Wouldn't that be your money she is taking? all your taxes paid towards a lawsuit over a bully
It is her reward for not teaching her kid how to behave appropriately with other kids - a reward for being a bully

Lisa D.
Lisa D4 years ago

Wesley i dont think that you checked the facts

Explain to me then.. how would you have handled the situation? If the roles were reversed and you were the mom of a bullied kid, you know you gave your son $ 5 for lunch and he comes home still hungry after a whole day at school and full of scratches or bruises.. what would you do?

Look i know hes just a kid but he is 7 not 3 or 4 years old. He is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. The police officers were called in to scare him.. to try teach him a lesson about being picked on

wesley a.
wes Allen4 years ago

Those calling the kid a bully evidently did not read the article!!!!!!!!!!

Berny p.
Berny p4 years ago