Mother Sues NYPD After 7 Year Old Is Arrested

by Yesha Callahan

Cuffed Child

Frances Mendez isn’t pleased about the treatment her 7-year-old son received on December 4th at the hands of New York’s finest, that she filed a $250 million dollar claim against the city and the NYPD. Frances’ son, Wilson, was accused of playground robbery. Allegedly, he bullied a boy into giving up $5 that was supposed to be used for a field trip.

According to the New York Post, the money fell to ground and someone swiped it. The fingers pointed to Wilson, even though he denied it. Four days later, instead of being dragged into the principal’s office, the 7-year-old was detained in an empty classroom for four hours, before being taken into custody at the 44th Precinct station. Wilson was then charged with robbery.  Frances stated by the time she arrived to the precinct she wasn’t allowed to see her son, but when she finally saw him, he was handcuffed to a wall.

Court documents state, “Reyes was handcuffed and verbally, physically and emotionally abused, intimidated, humiliated, embarrassed and defamed.”  “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,” Frances Mendez told The New York Post.

But not everyone believes Wilson is just an innocent victim. Wilson apparently has a history of bullying Seth Acevedo. Seth’s father, Santiago Acevedo, says his son has always been a target by Wilson and other students.  “They were always teasing him because of his weight. Sometimes he didn’t even want to go to school because of it,” Santiago Acevedo, 63, told The Post.

“Wilson was the worst bully,” said Seth, 9, in an interview Wednesday with the Daily News. “He would call me names. He would punch and kick me. I wish they never took the cuffs off of him.”

The NYPD stands by their claim that the incident was handled like all other incidents involving minors:

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.

Although the charges were eventually dropped, and another student admitted to the theft, the Mendez’s attorney, Jack Yankowitz, still isn’t pleased with the incident. “It’s unfathomable, what the police did. The whole thing sounds so stupid. They were interrogating him like he was a hardened criminal,” Yankowitz said. “If you have a child, a nephew, can you even imagine this happening to them?”

Do you think this treatment was extreme for a 7-year-old? Or was he just a bully that got taught a lesson?

  • Anthony

    My gut feeling is Ms. Mendez needs to tell Wilson that if he doesn’t stop bullying, he should get used to being handcuffed. I am a father, and I understand loving and defending your children, but they need to be sternly put in check when they are wrong. I don’t know if the boy took the $5, if he didn’t have a bad reputation,he would have been treated better.

  • Tia

    Too many comments like the poster above make my heart hurt for the brothers and sisters in this country that have internalized criminalization. If this baby had of been white, he would have been sent to the principals office and his parents would have been called.

    He is 7 years old. When a child acts up, we owe it to the future to deal with it in an age appropriate manner. Hauled off to jail, interrogated and cuffed? That’s dead wrong and I would OWN that city if it was my child.

  • Anthony

    Tia, I actually do not like seeing children treated like adults in the criminal system, but we have taken away the ability of schools to discipline children, and parents too often pretend that their little angels can do no wrong.

    When most options for punishment are taken away, the only option left is law enforcement. I know this sort of this does happen to little white kids, but they live in a society that will give them opportunities that will let them easily move in a positive direction. That is why it is so important that the mother of a boy like Wilson and tell him that handcuffs will indeed be his future if he does not straighten up. That is the cold reality of boys of color. I know it first hand since I was a boy of color at one time.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    Maybe they should of “Stopped and Frisked” him first to clear up any misunderstanding.

  • Anthony

    Tia, I would also remind you that this boy had been known as a bully for some time. I just don’t get the impression that his mother was as fired up about making him behave as she was about seeing him in jail. As a parent of color,you have to work on your kids hard before they fall into the hands of the system.

  • Yb

    I can’t wait to see the justifications for the NYPD’s behaviour. I can already see it now…

  • kc

    This rubs me the wrong way. It’s not the state’s responsibility to discipline someone’s children. I certainly don’t condone the bully’s actions, but this parents, not police officers, should be teaching him right from wrong at that age.

  • Sasha

    While I think the treatment of the kid was extreme and more fitting for someone a bit older, I think the lesson was necessary if it’s proven that Wilson is a bully.

  • kc

    I disagree. By introducing our boys to incarceration and police aggression at a young age, we are teaching them that all they will ever be are criminals. If a child grows up in handcuffs, why will he think he can grow up to be a lawyer or a doctor?

    Teachers are there to teach, not to discipline. Involved, dedicated parents need to teach their children right from wrong.

  • angel

    This is crazy. Even if this child: was a bully, took the $, etc… he is still judt 7 damn yrs old. Good grief. Do we not know how to handle children??? IMHO (as a mother of sons) this is not worth 250 million but someone needs to be held accountable and police and school policies need to change.

    And one more thing, sorry, our school systems AND parents need to get their heads out of the sand when it comes to bullying. There needs to programs in place that proactively provide education and when needed interventions.

  • Anthony

    One final point I would like to make is that given the reality of guns in the black community, a bully stands a good chance being shot by a scared and insecure kid who manages to get his hands on a gun. Given the level of violence in our neighborhoods, it is crucial to stress positive behavior.

  • Anthony

    Kc, I did not say that children in jail is good. I said that it will happen if there are no other options. A big part of a teacher’s job is indeed discipline. Children are not born disciplined, and many do not learn it at home.
    Children cannot learn in an environment where there is no discipline. My only experience as a teacher was just a little more than a year as a substitute, but I come for a family of many educators. From my perspective, parents who are willing to lay down the law are crucial to a child avoiding being caught up in the system. Parents have to work with the school system to get the best with their kids. They cannot simply show up once the kid is in trouble wanting to sue everyone.

  • Anthony

    The parent who doesn’t want the state disciplining her child better not wait until the kid is in handcuffs to be upset. As a person of color, you’ve got to know that can happen if you are not on tops of things or if you make excuses for unacceptable behavior.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    I agree that the mother is likely not as concerned about her son’s bullying tendancies but two wrongs do not make a right, the real issue here is yet again another example of NYPD’s incompetence when it comes to police work. Actions like these and stop and frisk laws are a sign of a lazy mind and that you are clueless about the community you are working in. There culture needs to change.

  • Anthony

    I think that ideally the police should not be involved at all in a case of $5 missing at school. Reality is that there are severe constraints on the ability of teachers or principals deal with misbehaving children. If a principal had searched the child and found the money, she or he would likely have been sued or arrested. Kids figure out pretty quickly that teachers have little power over them and become defiant. This gets even worse if parents don’t make their kids behave. Situations like this are how what should be minor disciplinary issues become law enforcement matters.

  • Kacey

    Your comment typifies the attitude of mothers of thugs everywhere! The coddling…the pathetic excuses! Tell me, at what point is he no longer a “poor baby”? When he’s 14 and picked-up for shooting a classmate? When he’s 18 and robbing and assaulting little old ladies? When he’s 21 and running drugs and guns? When he’s 25…30…and has a rap sheet a mile long? When?

    I ask because what you’re saying is the mantra of mothers, grandmothers and aunties of every felon, after her “poor baby” has wrecked havoc on society, yet again, and been taken down by the cops. Ask them when it started. Better yet, ask the people around them when it started. And I’m sure you’ll hear a history that began just like little Wilson here – exhibiting thug behavior in grade school!

    Instead of using this as her wake-up call to get this boy in hand, his mother just wants a pay-out from the government! No remorse, no accountability. (What’s not being reported here is there was an accomplice to the incident who confessed and backs-up the victims story) Where’s the father? In jail, I bet.

  • Treece

    This was a matter for the school to handle, and the school should take responsibility for taking care of matters that have to do with bullying and harrasment first. Point blank period. Why they got the police involved baffles me. the NYPD wasted time, money, and effort on a case that could’ve been handled by the school if the counselors, and administrative staff had done thier job….btw, who called the police in the first place? The school? When did it become commonplace to call the police on a 7 year old that you didn’t even confirm stole $5? Somebody had a vendetta out on this kid. I see it time and time again in schools. You have a “problem kid” and the school staff does everything they can to dole out harsher punishments and unreasonable consequences on him/her “teach them a lesson” or to make a case for them to be in special ed as an “emotionally disturbed” child. Like call the police for something you didn’t even know if the kid is guilty of in the first place…..sad. Also, why didn’t the police dismiss the school official and tell them straight up: “Sir/Ma’am, we have more important and pressing issues to deal with in this large, urban area than a minor episode of school bullying”. They shouldn’t have even entertained it. I know that bullying in schools is an important and rampant problem, but on this scale, it’s a problem for the school and the school system to combat. Not the police.

  • Blue

    If this kid were older (say a teenager) and he beat & robbed someone, we wouldn’t be making such a big deal out of him being hand cuffed. I have a problem with a seven year old beating & robbing someone. Who knows if the school did anything about the bullying before all of this went down. Why didn’t the parents get involved with this boy’s behavior before? So I don’t feel sorry for the kid or his parents. Hopefully he’ll be scared straight.

  • Ange B

    I think that the school should have handled this incident. And the principal should have been the final stop. Once the truth was discovered of who took the money then a talk should have taken place with all 3 children involved. The child who got arrested they should talk to him and see how his actions have led to his poor reputation…to the bully child whatever you tell those kids nowadays I’m not quite sure. And to the child that actually took the money punishment (not necessarily suspension but I don’t know clean up chalk board…do they still do that? Detention and of course talking to about actions and consequences etc. I think the police should be brought on school if there was a gun involved. All this anti-bullying that has swept the nation is blown out of proportion. An opportunity to teach children about actions,consequences, reputation is lost because the police were involved. Now how many adults get arrested because of bullying in the workplace? Heck money is often embezzled and leads to very few arrests and prosecution so why on earth would you put that type of punishment on a child when everyday adults who still millions get away with that?

    To me this situation smells…because funny how they know that another child confessed to taking the money or they found it on another yet I see no additional arrests being made. All that lesson showed that poor child is that you are guilty then proven innocent and not of your own cause. Telling the truth didn’t set him free right…sad.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Though Wilson has a history of bullying and issues with Seth that NEEDS to be addressed and fix ASAP, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I think the school and the police went above and beyond what was called for in this situation. I was expecting to read that this kid possibly had a weapon or possibly seriously injured his classmate physically but all this because of $5 that (here was the kicker) NO ONE had proof or KNEW FOR A FACT whether or not HE stole it (which he didn’t)… WTF! Sorry but objectively speaking this was a bad mishandling of the situation and a waste of time/resources so I don’t blame Wilson’s family for suing NYPD. Personally, I think the school should be given some type of punishment as well because from an administrative standpoint the occurrence of events was just not reasonable or rational.

  • MimiLuvs

    Okay folks, here is the thing: the robbery occurred OFF of school property and during AFTER SCHOOL HOURS, when the kid was walking on his way home. There were two kids involved in the act. The accomplice backed up the victim’s testimony. More than likely, the victim’s mom had wanted to press charges after the 7 year-old kid punched her son. Read the NY Daily News article and don’t rely on Clutch please.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    Kids don’t get handcuffed to classroom pipes in the suburbs.

  • Anthony

    You are right suburban kids aren’t going to handcuffed to pipes. That is a really powerful reason to aggressively check behavior in your children that will put hem on the policy’s radar. We all know that we can end up beaten or dead even when we have done nothing, the last thing a kid needs is an actual record of bad or criminal behavior.

  • victoria

    ”…if he didn’t have a bad reputation,he would have been treated better.”

    When will people learn this. Your reputation precedes you. This is how the world works. There is a reason why new teachers always get the bad kids.

  • victoria

    kc
    The duties and responsibilities of a teacher includes discipline.

  • 1luv

    Ok So I just finished reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.
    That book pretty much explains this. Stuff like this is not happening in other more “privileged” communities…

  • Nikster

    Wow! Really?! He is 7 years old! I think people need to sit back and understand the cognitive ability of a 7 year old child even if we want to think of them with the minds of adults. These concepts don’t just come naturally. There are studies that indicate even twentysomethings are still developing neurologically and cognitively when it comes to decision making: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?pagewanted=all

    The mother should and needs to do something about the child’s bullying. I completely agree. But the police stepped over the line in the way that they detained the child and didn’t allow him to see his mother when she requested. It was excessive. The mother has every right to take action and should. He doesn’t have to be angel in order for the actions of the adults to be wrong.

  • Mademoiselle

    I 100% agree with Anthony on this topic. Yes, the officer who handcuffed this 7 year-old was wrong, but as the parent of a child who undoubtedly will face discrimination when he grows up, this woman is fooling herself to think that she could let her son grow up as a bully and never have to pick him up from jail. It’s sad that she had to deal with this so early in his life, but she’s failing him by allowing him to be the school menace as if he of all people will ever catch a break in life. What’s worse is if she lands on whatever stroke of luck it would take for her to win a quarter-billion dollars just for her son being handcuffed, she’ll doubly fail him by giving him the illusion that not only will he not have to face the consequences of terrorizing your community, but you’ll get paid to do it. That’s not reality for the overwhelming majority of minorities in this country.

    I’ll end with this: I remember when I was young, my mom would do that irritating thing of stopping a police officer if I was acting up in public and saying “you see the police officer is here to take you away if you don’t behave,” and the annoying police officers who would play along and say “oh yes, young lady — mind your mother, or I’ll arrest you.” I knew back then that 1) neither of them were serious IN THAT MOMENT, but 2) both of them were making a point about getting it together today, so that I wouldn’t regret it tomorrow. Do parents no longer teach their kids the “watch it before you end up in jail” lesson anymore? Are kids no longer ending up in juvenile detention for real assault and aggression crimes? Is that why this kid’s police lesson is so taboo?

  • thinkpink

    Please do research on the cradle to prison pipeline before making comments like this.
    Being introduced to the criminal system early does not “scare a kid straight”. It introduces them to the idea that they will and should get used to being treated like a criminal.

  • thinkpink

    Respectfully anthony comments like yours are exactly what I think is wrong with the black community. We are raising a generation that doesn’t fight and actively ask society to right its wrongs against us. Instead we tell our youth they live in a society that will always be against them and as a result should live fearfully and on the defensive. What happened to our leaders? If our ancestors didn’t stand up to America’s wrongs we wouldn’t have the opporunities available to us now. However it seems we have lost our voice. We don’t demand to be treated equally or fairly anymore. Instead we teach our kids that they are destined to a life of inequality and should change their behavior accordingly rather than challenge the system that enacts this inequality in the first place.

  • thinkpink

    It’s an AMAZING book and should be required reading for all people of color

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    In regards to the arrest, the mother of the bullied kid was the person who called the police. When her son returned home, on the day of the robbery, her son told her that he was robbed. So, she did the right thing and called the police, which is why the 7 year-old Wilson (and his accomplice) was arrested at school, four days later.
    In regards to the on-going bullying, according to the parents of the bullied child, they have made previous arrangements with the school’s administrators to have a meeting with the 7 year-old’s parents to talk about the bullying.
    IMO, if I was the parent of the bullied child, I would’ve done the same thing and I would consider that to be “taking the high road”.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    The mother of the bullied child was the person who called the police. She called the cops after her son returned home and stated that he was robbed.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    Well, he was arrested because the other child’s mother called the cops and I think she wanted to press charges…

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    The “missing $5″ did not occur on the school’s grounds. The robbery occurred after school hours and off of the school’s property. The bullied child’s mother was the person who called the cops and she decided to press charges. Maybe she had reached her ‘breaking point’ with the occurring bullying that her child was dealing with. The cops were able to make the arrest, four days later.

  • Anthony

    I think you miss my point also. I am very aggressive when it comes to fighting for the rights of my people. I also call out knuckle headed behavior when I see it. Too many times I have seen us make excuses for clearly criminal behavior or we overlook it if it coincides with abuse by authorities. My point is that it is equally important to carry oneself in a way that does not lead to getting caught in the legal system for unnecessary bad actions.

    The reality is that black boys are seen like bear or tiger cubs: we are cuddly when we are small; but suddenly we get too big, and the world is afraid of us. I know what it is like be 14 years old, but 5′ 10, 256 lbs. and the world sees you as a man. In your mind, you are a kid, but the world sees you as a large black man. I grew up in a much more forgiving environment than Wilson Mendez is living in, and it was not easy for me.

    I know for a fact law enforcement can be brutal and racist, but I also know that intelligent behavior and law abiding can blunt a great many possibilities or friction.
    At the same time, law breaking provides a racist LEO with the perfect opening to crack black heads.

  • Anthony

    Thinkpink, I never said getting arrested would scare Wilson Mendez straight. I said his mother needs to tell him to change his ways, or he should get used to handcuffs. I can understand his mother not wanting him arrested, but she needs to understand that Seth’s folks have every right to call the police on her son if he is not going to stop acting like a bully or thug in training. Ms. Mendez needs to be just as mad at her son’s behavior as she is mad the police.

  • Anthony

    Mimiluvs, thanks for the corrections. Since it was not at school, I don’t see what alternative Seth’s parents had if Wilson’s Mom was not cracking down on her boy.

  • Anthony

    If your kid is involved in bad or criminal behavior, the worst message a parent can send is that the kid is a victim of the system, even if that is the case. Priority one has to be putting your child on the right path.

    No matter how mad I would be at the authorities, getting my kid to change his ways has to be job one.

  • Soulfulindustry

    Yeeeaaassshhhh but, bully or not he is still a child. The principal should have intervened before the police did.

    Bully or not, parents and teachers should take the opportunity to work with children before calling in the police. That’s a bit cruel and unnecessary for a 7 year old in my opinion.

    I would figure the police have other things to do besides settle playground disputes.

  • Nnaattaayy

    Sorry Ms. Mendez but your son looks guilty af

  • http://www.sarahdjarnie.com Sarah

    The problem is the mother…have you seen her?? well let me describe her she picks up her son in pajamas..she look ghetto and ridiculous.
    and probably no father in the house….so there isn’t anyone disciplining him

  • http://www.sarahdjarnie.com Sarah

    My dear…. lets keep it real…. I live in Bedford Stuyvesant and I see young brothers and sisters acting up not wanting to do the RIGHT thing every day.. I talk to kids on my block some choose to listen and some don’t ending up in juvenile centers. Black and Brown people need to understand a couple of things these kids need to know at an early age that their negative actions may lead them up to jail or even worse the grave. The parents or the single parent also has to want the child to do better, so that is where you may have give that child tough love. Look if my child stole that money from that kid , I WOULD make him give himself up to the police!!! yes… i would and he would understand that this is not a game if you do not understand your consequences you can up up here in 15 years!!!

  • http://www.sarahdjarnie.com Sarah

    The mother looks guilt too…..just saying..

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