10-year-old pees in public and is arrested, lawsuit says. Now Mississippi mom wants $2M

A 10-year-old boy was arrested for urinating in public, costing one Mississippi officer his job — now the boy’s mom is suing for $2 million.

Latonya Eason said her son was arrested and held in a jail cell when officers spotted him relieving himself behind her car, according to the federal lawsuit filed Feb. 21.

McClatchy News reached out to Senatobia city and law enforcement officials Feb. 22 and did not immediately receive a response.

On Aug. 10, Eason was running an errand when her son needed to use the bathroom, McClatchy News previously reported. He couldn’t wait, so he went behind his mom’s car, according to the complaint.

An officer with the Senatobia Police Department saw him and found his mom to give her a warning, Eason said. That’s when other officers showed up and said the boy would receive a youth court referral and needed to be taken to the police station, Senatobia officials said.

Then, they put the 10-year-old in a police cruiser and took him to jail.

Richard Chandler, chief of the Senatobia Police Department, said the boy was taken there to complete paperwork and noted he wasn’t handcuffed, according to an Aug. 15 statement.

Eason said her child was “held and arrested in a confined jail cell like a regular criminal” for nearly an hour, causing “immense damages,” according to the lawsuit.

He was released with a charge of being a child “in need of services,” which was later dismissed.

Eason and her legal team, according to the lawsuit, are accusing individual officers, as well as the city, of excessive force, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, failure to train and supervise, false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution and violation of the child’s 14th Amendment rights.

After the incident, the police department began an internal investigation and found “the officer’s decisions violated our written policy and went against our prior training on how to deal with these situations,” Chandler wrote in an Aug. 21 statement.

Per Youth Court Act guidelines, officers are allowed to file a referral against a 10-year-old if they believe the child has committed an act “that would be illegal for an adult under identical circumstances,” Chandler said in the Aug. 15 statement.

He described the officers’ response as an “error in judgment.” As a result of the investigation, one of the officers is no longer with the department, and others were disciplined, according to Chandler.

“We are dedicated to continually improving and learning from our mistakes,” he said.

Eason and her attorney, Carlos Moore, stood in front of the Senatobia City Hall on Feb. 22 when they announced the federal suit.

“He gets to the point where he sees police officers and he just starts shaking. He’s frightened,” Eason said at the news conference broadcast by WREG. “He’s really traumatized by this.”

The lawsuit is seeking $2 million in compensatory damages for the anguish the incident caused, as well as punitive damages to deter the accused parties from “future discriminatory behavior.”

“Senatobia, you can pay me now or you can pay me later, but trust me, you will pay this family,” Moore said outside city hall.

Senatobia is in Tate County, about 170 miles north of Jackson.

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