Justice blindfolded lady holding scales and sword statue, stock photo. (seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Fox21News reports the story of two 10-year-old Colorado boys who were arrested and charged with Felony Menacing, a Class 5 felony. The boys had been playing with an orange-tipped toy Nerf gun and an orange Nerf bow and arrow one summer afternoon and decided to point their “weapons” at cars as they passed. Stupid? Yes. But a felony?
Fox21 interviewed one of the boys, Gavin Carpenter. Here’s what happened:
Gavin told the reporter that, last July, he and a friend were playing with Nerf toys at the intersection of N. Powers Blvd and Constitution Avenue in Colorado Springs. They were playing a version of a video game called “Fortnite.”
He pointed out that “the toy bow was an orange Nerf bow. It didn’t work. Nothing could shoot out of it. Nothing would come out of it. The weapon, well toy, I had, had an orange tip. It was also broken and couldn’t shoot anything out of it.”
He explained that they were pretending to shoot at cars as they passed. Finally, they pointed their gun and bow at a truck. “He [the driver] slammed on his brakes and started reversing as fast as he could.”
The boys ran back to his friend’s grandparents’ house. The driver rang the doorbell. Gavin said, “He came up and started getting very heated and was very mad. I was at the time, very scared.”
The man called the police.
El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies arrived and arrested both Gavin and his friend. He continued, “They came back over, told me my rights, and told me what was going to happen. They put handcuffs on me, and I got into the car…I told them I had no intention to have scared them or have any threat to their life.”
According to the Carpenter family, the boys were “taken to the Colorado Springs Police Department for mugshots and fingerprinting.”
The article doesn’t indicate what time of day the incident occurred. Let’s assume it happened in the afternoon. Gavin’s parents, Chris and Stephanie Carpenter, told Fox21 their son wasn’t released until 10:30 pm.
The Carpenter’s hired a lawyer to see if they could have the record of his arrest expunged. The District Attorney refused to do so. Chris told Fox21, “It was just a hard no, that the District Attorney wasn’t going to throw this out. That is when we moved into the diversion program.”
He explained that “the diversion program required Gavin to do community service, submit an essay, and other tasks before the expunge could happen. After 216 days of fighting it, the felony was finally expunged.”
He added, “So if you run his name, nothing will show up, but he did have a Class Five Felony on there for at least half a year.”
Chris and Stephanie indicated the experience had not only been a “learning lesson” for Gavin, it had been a lesson for them too. Stephanie said, “The kids don’t understand the way the world thinks right now. So, they don’t know what we know…they are kids.”
Gavin’s dad has decided that both boys need to regain their trust in law enforcement and has planned to have them participate in some events with police and deputies.
“We’re trying to establish now for the boys a few events to help build trust in law enforcement because it was shattered. We want them to not be scared and show that law enforcement [officers are] their friends, and they need to show them the proper respect.”
The driver of the truck sees two young boys pointing weapons at him on a summer afternoon. I can’t imagine he thought they were real. This wasn’t exactly the South Side of Chicago, it was Colorado Springs. If he truly believed the boys were armed, would he have gone to the house unarmed?
Maybe it’s just the mother in me, but I think the police went too far in this situation. Yes, the boys did a stupid thing. My kids certainly did their fair share of stupid things. And they were, I think, appropriately disciplined. Felony menacing?
If only the Sheriff had considered the boy’s intentions, as the FBI did when they found Hillary Clinton had been
grossly negligent extremely careless with classified information, but had not intended to cause harm.
For a ten-year-old, the experience had to have been traumatizing. On the plus side, they learned something important at a young age they won’t soon forget. Actions have consequences.
Gavin’s mother tells her story on Facebook. It can be viewed here.