Prosecutors have dismissed the case against a 10-year-old Michigan boy previously charged with assault for injuring his classmate after a school yard game.
“While the charge in this case is certainly sustainable, I have instructed my staff to dismiss this case today,” Wayne County prosecutor Kim Worthy said in a statement. “It is my earnest hope that both sides will come back to the table to work out a solution that benefits both of these children.”
Cameishi Lindley‘s 10-year-old son, Bryce Lindley, was formally charged as a juvenile with aggravated assault after a playground ball game left his 9-year-old classmate with a concussion, among other injuries. The incident unfolded at a Canton elementary school in late April.
According to WXYZ Detroit, the students were playing a game called “Tips,” which uses a rubber ball similar to dodgeball and requires players to jump up and toss the ball at the person opposite them, with the receiver jumping to catch it. Lindley described it as a modified version of dodgeball, because the students throw the ball in the air rather than at one another.
“These kids are basically playing a game we all have played,” she told the outlet last month.
Once the game was over, it’s alleged that Bryce took the ball and forcefully, and intentionally, threw it at another student, hitting that child in the face. That’s when that child’s mother, who says the boy has a medical condition that makes head injuries especially dangerous, took her complaints to local police.
“The mother of the alleged victim had every right to go to the authorities and the authorities had an obligation to investigate,” Worthy said.
She added that the case came to her as a “not in custody” case, meaning there was no arrest, and that steps had been taken to resolve the matter before the authorities, and her office, got involved.
The investigation that followed sparked immediate backlash, however, and came with allegations of racial bias. Worthy defended her office, saying the race(s) of the parties involved weren’t a factor in the decision-making process.
“It is categorically wrong to suggest this was charged based on race or geography,” she said, noting that there were “facts that played into our decision that have not, due to ethical rules, been reported.”
“I will never try our cases in the court of public opinion or outcry,” Worthy added.
Bryce was set to appear in juvenile court Thursday morning before his charges were dropped. Attorney Maurice Davis, who’s representing the young boy and his family, said it was “no coincidence” that prosecutors nixed the case just hours before a scheduled press conference defending the child.
“They knew they were completely wrong,” Davis told Yahoo News. “But had [Bryce] not received the media attention he did, he’d be in court tomorrow at 9AM as scheduled.”
He called it “an abuse of power to charge a 10-year-old with aggravated assault over an accident at a playground,” saying the decision to press charges for participating in a schoolyard game is “ridiculous.”
Moreover, Davis said he was “surprised” by the prosecutor’s office for authorizing such an “unbelievable” charge — especially, he said, with Worthy being an African-American woman.
In a statement, Worthy said her office had worked to ensure that both children and their families were served, and that she hopes the charges won’t need to be revisited.
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