False arrest trial: Nia Whims, 13, from Florida, wrongfully accused of uttering threats of violence

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. — Nia Whims, a 13-year-old from Florida, is speaking out after she was arrested and falsely accused of uttering threats of violence against her school in November 2021. Now her family is suing in justice against several parties they claim are at fault.

“At first, I felt really lost in the situation. It was a terrifying experience,” Whims told ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis in an interview on Tuesday.

Whims was detained for 14 days on false charges, according to the family, after a classmate impersonating her on Instagram made threats against the school. As a result, his family has now filed a lawsuit against the school, Instagram and its parent company, Meta, they announced on Wednesday.

The family also filed a notice of intent to sue the Pembroke Pines Police Department over the incident.

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“When it comes to our children, law enforcement and our school officials need to make sure they do their homework before handcuffing our children,” Marwan Porter, the family’s attorney, told ABC News. Live.
“And we know that, yes, there have been situations that have ended in tragedy where these kinds of threats need to be taken seriously,” Porter added. “But this cannot come at the expense of our children.”

The other student, whose name has not been released, has been charged in connection with the incident, the Pembroke Pines Police Department said in a news release.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants engaged in malicious prosecution, violated Whims’ civil rights and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

Whims’ mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, called the experience “traumatic” for the two in Tuesday’s interview with ABC News.

“Nobody looked at the damage he caused,” she added. “Emotionally, mentally, you know, and she’s still growing. She’s young and she’s growing. So as adults, a lot of things in our past affect us and I think that’s something that will affect her. .”

The complaint also alleges that Whims was bullied while a student at Renaissance Charter School and that the school “failed to investigate or respond” after it was reported. The bullying got so bad, Davis said, that she pulled her daughter out of school just days before the November arrest.

Renaissance Charter School did not directly respond to allegations of bullying in the lawsuit, but Colleen Reynolds, a school spokesperson, said in a statement: “Our priority is always the safety and security of our students and we immediately involved law enforcement regarding this threat and took all appropriate precautions.We do not discuss any pending litigation, so we cannot comment on the pending lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleges Instagram was negligent in allowing the other student to create fake accounts posing as Whims. Meta did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

The Pembroke Pines Police Department also declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In a press release, the department said Davis only began cooperating with police in December, when police received information allowing them to seek a subpoena for the IP addresses associated with the messages. threatening.

Police said their investigation showed those IP addresses showed the threats were linked to another student who created email addresses and Instagram accounts with Whims’ name and used them to threaten students and the Renaissance Charter School staff.

At the press conference announcing the lawsuit, Porter said it would be “naive” to think that race didn’t play a role in the incident. He also said the police department’s claim that Whims’ family had not been cooperative was false.

“It’s very shocking to see a child being handcuffed for something like this, and I just hope they handle it in a different way,” Davis said in the interview with ABC News. “No child should be put in jail and taken away from their family.”

Whims’ family is suing for a minimum of $30,000 plus costs and attorney’s fees.

ABC News’ Sabina Ghebremedhin, Lauren Peale, Penelope Lopez and Sarah Baniak contributed to this report.

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