Three months after handcuffing an innocent 13-year-old girl and detaining her for two weeks.
On November 19, 13-year-old Nia Whims (pictured, left) was arrested by Florida police for making a bomb threat against her school, placed in handcuffs and thrown in juvie for two weeks.
On Thursday — almost three months later — authorities admitted they got the wrong girl, claiming the real mastermind behind the plot was another 12-year-old 7th-grader, who'd fooled them by setting up a fake Instagram account.
On the day of the incident, Pembroke Pines Police were called to Renaissance Charter School, which had been placed on yellow alert after someone had threatened to harm staff and students on Instagram.
It appeared to be an open and shut case: the careless would-be terrorist had used an Instagram account with their name on it. Video shows police taking a crying 13-year-old Whims away in cuffs. Despite protesting her innocence multiple times, she would spend the next 14 days in a juvenile detention center.
In a press conference Thursday, Pembroke Pines Captain Adam Feiner announced they had arrested another 12-year-old, who they said framed Whims by setting up a Finsta in her name by using fake email accounts — and had even sent herself threatening messages to throw them off the scent.
As to why it took so long to drop the charges against the wrongfully accused teen, Feiner appeared to blame Whim's mother Lezlie Davis for allegedly not cooperating sooner.
"On the date of arrest, our investigation and assessment of available evidence suggested that the person arrested was indeed responsible for the crime that was committed," he claimed.
"Police officers were operating under exigent circumstances, and in accordance with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act. Police officers were limited by the law itself, since it was the family's choice to not cooperate with investigating officers."
"On the day of arrest, probable cause for arrest was satisfied, and it was established based upon available evidence, witness statements, and the recommendation of the Broward State Attorney's Office, who worked in consultation with investigating officers."
Pembroke Pines PD claim Whim's family only started cooperating in December. They later obtained subpoenas for the IP addresses connected to the threatening messages.
It wasn't until January that they uncovered new evidence pointing to who they now say is the real culprit: a 12-year-old girl.
"The actual suspect maliciously impersonated another student, created email and Instagram accounts to send herself as well as other students threatening messages, and intentionally lied to law enforcement and school staff to frame another person," Feiner said.
The unnamed 12-year-old is now charged with written threats to kill or do bodily harm, falsifying a police report, penalty for disruption of an educational institution, and criminal use of personal information.
The charges against Nia meanwhile were not formally dropped until January 28, according to Local10.
"Your case is being dropped today," the judge told her that day. "Do you have any questions for me? Good luck. I'm really sorry you went through this."
Nia simply replied: "It's OK."
But according to her mom, it is not okay; she denies ever being uncooperative, and says she just retained a lawyer to help with the case, which, as a Local10 reporter pointed out to Captain Feiner, is her Constitutional right.
"So I would respond by saying you are 100 percent correct; it is someone's Constitutional right to not cooperate with law enforcement," Captain Feiner replied. "Based upon one's ability to either remain silent or not to cooperate with law enforcement, we didn't have the opportunity to examine digital devices."
Nia's mom Lezlie is now considering legal action against the police for putting her daughter through the traumatizing experience.
"I co-operated with (police). Took them into my house. I even said if it was her... that my daughter should be punished," she told the outlet, adding that she allowed investigators question the teen "until it got exhausting." She claims police themselves have video evidence of the family cooperating in interviews.
The family's lawyer Marwan Porter said in a statement to NBC Miami that law enforcement needs to do its homework putting students in handcuffs, arresting and detaining them for two weeks.
"It is very clear that the Pembroke Pines Police Dept. and others involved, failed to conduct a basic investigation into the false allegations which resulted in the arrest and severe emotional damage to my client," the attorney said.
"This could have happened to any one of our babies and we can not and will not tolerate it. My firm is conducting an investigation to identify those responsible for this travesty and will be pursuing all options available to hold them accountable."
As for Nia herself, she simply said: "It was heartbreaking that everybody thought it was me."
Source: Full Feed | Toofab.com https://toofab.com/2022/02/11/florida-police-claim-they-were-outsmarted-by-12-year-old-who-framed-classmate-bomb-threat/