Seven-year old boy arrested over missing $5

Photo from New York Post

Photo from New York Post

Jonathan Turley flags a disturbing story about a seven year old boy Wilson Reyes who was accused of stealing $5 from another child after school one day. The police showed up at his school one morning and handcuffed him.

Before being hauled off to the police station, Reyes was held in custody for four hours at PS X114. He was then taken to the 44th Precinct station house for another six hours of interrogation.

What is most disturbing is that the parents say that police would not allow them to see their child while in custody. When they did, they found him handcuffed to a wall.

When cops finally allowed the pair to see the boy, they found the panicked kid seated in a shabby chair with his left wrist cuffed to the wall, Mendez said.

Another child later admitted to taking the money.

But quite apart from questions of guilt or innocence, keeping a seven-year old child from his parents for 10 hours (the police say it was just five) and handcuffing him to the wall seems extraordinary. And yet, the police say that such action by them is routine.

But law-enforcement sources insisted that Wilson was treated like any other young suspect.

“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,” a source said.

“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.”

Reyes’s mistake was not stealing $5 billion because then he would have been ‘too big to jail’ and treated with great deference.


  1. psweet says

    I’m pretty sure that interrogating a minor without a parent or legal guardian present is actually illegal. If that department does this sort of thing routinely, it’s going to wind up costing them a lot of money one of these days.

  2. wswordsmen says

    If the cops got paid minimum wage, the cost of labor to interrogate this “thief” would total at least $40.48. That is 8 times what he supposedly stole. Is it just me or is something wrong where not everyone is seeing something wrong with this.

    I would also like to note other costs including gas, the use of the room he was interrogated in, a second officer aren’t even included so it would likely be significantly more.

  3. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Is there not a minimum age of criminal responsibility over there? Surely even arresting a 5-year old has to be an illegal act in itself.
    Ohh, now I see it. The kid don’t have properly white skin. That explains a lot. Them ol’ lynchin’ habits haven’t completely gone away over there, have they?

  4. Rodney Nelson says

    According to this website in New York:

    As soon as a police officer arrests a child under 16 years of age and takes him into custody he must make every reasonable effort to notify a parents or other person legally responsible for the child’s care (McKinney’s Family Court Act, § 305.2).

    The child may not be questioned unless he and his parents or other person legally responsible for his care been advised of the child’s right to remain silent and request to have an attorney. (McKinney’s Family Court Act, § 305.2).

    The police must make responsible efforts to notify a parent or other person legally responsible for the child’s care and give them an opportunity to be present.

    Looks like the police are setting themselves up for a lawsuit in this case.

  5. kenbo says

    Idiots and bullies. Every day another story showing they are idiots and bullies.

    If law enforcement officers (and I use the term loosely) had to pass an annual written exam on even the most basic laws in their jurisdiction, I fear we would have no police officers left in America.

  6. baal says

    Economic balancing only happens in the civil context of the US legal system.

    For criminal, it’s not sky’s the limit but the State spends dramatically more than the defense and the amounts at interest have much less impact than they every did. The SCOTUS has all but thrown out proportionality by ruling that the comparison is between penalty at hand and the penalty of other similar cases. The better way is to compare the punishment to the crime and ask if that’s reasonable (Pulley v. Harris, 465 U.S. 37 (1984)).

    This instance is pre-trial (investigation) detention but a similar idea applies where cops are judged according to a “generally accepted practices” model or so long as the cops are doing what they consider ‘normal’ it’s ok. FWIW you have no ;’criminal defendant rights’ that adhere until you’re charged with a crime. This is part of the reason why cops will try to get you to make admissions early in a situation (so keep quiet).

    Technical legal aside, it’s time to retrain those cops and the school.

  7. smrnda says

    This type of instance should be handled by school authorities and resolved without the police. However, police and affluent white people, all about getting ‘tough on crime’ and ‘keeping schools safe’ have, as far as I can tell in NYC have turned schools that service minority kids into police occupied territories, where they cuff 5 year olds who don’t want to take naps for ‘disorderly conduct.’

    This is why I think that all cops in the US needs to be dismissed and replaced. It’s a bad system. Replace police with people who are accountable to the communities they police, and like elected officials, if the community thinks the cops are thugs they need to be out of there. I’m typically very pro-union, but I think the police get too many protections from public accountability and if an event like this happens your days as a cop should be over.

  8. mnb0 says

    Congratulations to all you Americans. This doesn’t even happen in barbaric Suriname, where the police routinely is criticized for being brutal.

    “standard for a juvenile arrest.”
    So there isn’t a single egghead (specifically including superiors) in that department asking a few obvious questions?

  9. iainr says

    My first thought on reading this was horror that anyone could treat a seven year old child like that.

    My second thought was “what is the age of criminal responsibility in the US?” (here in the UK I believe it is 10)

    So I searched and found “Only 13 states have set minimum ages, which range from six to 12”.

    WTF???!!?! 37 states have no minimum age and some of the states that do have it set at 6? The USA is in many ways a strange and disturbing country.

  10. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    First of all, I can’t believe that a claim over five dollars was not laughed at. Second, that the use of 911 to report five fucking dollars missing isn’t treated like a criminal act itself. Third, that there was an arrest. Fourth, that they arrested an innocent person, a very young child, on some other person’s say-so. Fifth, like NY cops have nothing better to do. I’m sure there are more, in addition to anything previously said here or anywhere by anyone.

    Hard to separate the stupidity and wrongness of the particular incident from the system in general, excepting where it apparently contravenes normal (wrong or not) police behavior.

  11. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    There probably are some busy asking question, and maybe even proposing some minor disciplinary action, while doing their best to bury it from the public view.

    BTW, thank you for congratulating all Americans.

  12. Jim B says

    This clearly was a procedural mistake. The police should have waterboarded the young man and gotten to the bottom of the crime efficiently. As we have been told, waterboarding is no worse than a frat hazing prank. I’m sure junior would have laughed about it when all was done and he confessed to his role in the theft of $5 and myriad other unsolved local crimes.

  13. wilsim says

    I surely hope so. They need to be called on it, asap. This family needs to sue the shit out of those cops, personally, and the police department.

    This story appalls me. If it were my son, we would be talking to a civil rights lawyer right now!

  14. Courtney says

    Take your ugly race card and shove it! Im so sick and tired of people saying its a matter of race when it comes to raising our kids, promoting a healthy living community, or simply enforcing the LAW! I dont care what color your skin is…no matter what your age is….follow the laws and treat others as you would like to be treated! $250 million? Where the heck is the damage? I’ll tell you….the REAL damage is not disciplining this child!!! Scare him and show him where people go when they destroy their lives! Show them young….a place they do NOT want to go!!! By the lack of discipline already displayed by this bully’s mother…. No…SHE is the one responsible with how this child views police and court. She’s already teaching him to TAKE from people by suing for $250 million vs using this as a learning experience. This is where the REAL damage is!!!

  15. says

    Yeah, I agree to what Mr. Jim B has commented. Clearly there is mistakes in the procedure because I think that the child was too young to experienced that in the police station. I don’t think that they have to put handcuffs to the child’s hands because what could a “7 year-old” do against them, right? And yeah, why are they interrogating a minor without his parents? I believe that’s illegal. I know that stealing somebody’s money or property is a crime but I know that there is a way better procedure/treatment to minors than that.

  16. sailor1031 says

    I guess the old practice of beating up smaller kids and stealing their lunch money has long been eradicated by NY’s finest so this was a truly unusual case and the school authorities had no idea how to handle it. Over reaction by schools and police seems to be the norm these days.

  17. Thorne says

    Uh, you did read where the kid was innocent? Another kid admitted to taking the money. This child was terrorized by the police, illegally, yet did nothing illegal himself! Someone needs to show these cops “a place they do NOT want to go!!!”

  18. anne mariehovgaard says

    I agree with iainr @8 (min. age is 15 here in Norway)… and Courtney @3.1 kindly provides a nice demonstration of one aspect of the general brutality and pro-violence attitude of US culture. No, I’m not saying you’re all like this, obviously, but clearly a lot of Americans are, judging by how politicians have to convince everyone they’re “tough on crime” to get elected.

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