Is He A Victim Or A Bully? 7-Year-Old Arrested And Questioned For Hours By Police For Stealing $5

January 31, 2013  |  

 

Photo: Tamara Beckwith

Early last month, Bronx native and 7-year-old Wilson Reyes got the shock of his young life when police arrived at his school, slapped handcuffs on him, took him to a local precinct inside a juvenile holding room and interrogated him for hours (according to the New York Post). And they did all this because Reyes was accused of stealing $5.

While this happened at the end of last year, the story became news around NYC recently because the family is in the early stages of trying to sue the city and the NYPD for $250 million for what the family and their lawyer say was a “a complete violation of his civil rights, of his human rights.” And while shock and sympathy was initially going the way of the young child, a kid who says he was the one who got beat up outside of school by Reyes for that $5 is saying that after months of being harassed, bullied and beat on by him because of his weight, the arrest was warranted.

On Nov. 30 2012, it is alleged by 9-year-old Seth Acevedo that as he walked home after school one day, he was punched in the face by Reyes and attacked by Reyes’ accomplice for the money he had on him, $5. Reyes’ accomplice, 9-year-old Javonne McLeod, has actually said that this story is true, according to the New York Daily News. Acevedo claims that Reyes has been harassing him since the school year began, saying “He would call me names. He would punch and kick me. I wish they never took the cuffs off of him….He acts like an animal. People are trying to say, poor Wilson, but he’s nothing but a big bully.”

Seth Acevedo and his mother: Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News
But Reyes and his family still tell a different story, claiming the young boy has been lied on and was treated unfairly by the police. Especially his mother, Frances Menendez, who had to witness her very scared son in the precinct. “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.”
And according to the New York Post’s story yesterday, how Reyes got that $5 is a story that doesn’t match Acevedo’s whatsoever and comes off more as a misunderstanding:
The money, which was supposed to be used for a school trip that never happened, had fallen on the ground in front of Wilson and two other boys, and one of them scooped it up. Wilson was falsely accused of taking it, and he scuffled with one of the kids…Reyes was handcuffed and verbally, physically and emotionally abused, intimidated, humiliated, embarrassed and defamed,” the documents say. He was then charged with robbery.
But police say that the claims made by the family and their lawyer have been “grossly fabricated,” especially the 10 hours they claim Reyes was held in custody. According to reports, he was treated like any young person brought in for questioning.  They say he was only held from late 3 p.m. to late 7 p.m. and it was decided after the questioning that they would drop the robbery charge.

“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. He was charged with robbery. The allegation was that he punched the kid and took his money. He took the money forcibly. The kid came into the precinct a little bit after 3 p.m., and he was out by 7:45 p.m. . . . That’s standard for a juvenile arrest.”

But the family still isn’t buying their story and now they want the world to know what happened. But is Reyes really a victim? Or is he a bully that finally received some hopefully behavior-changing punishment? As someone who has had a nephew be physically assaulted by a bully, I can’t say that I feel any real sympathy for Reyes. And since the robbery charge has been dropped, that young man’s family needs to focus less on trying to get some money from the city and the NYPD and teach their child some act right. But what do you think? Does the family have a case?

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