A Black Florida teenager who says she was bullied for months by classmates was falsely accused of threatening her school and then wrongly detained at a juvenile detention facility for 11 days, according to her family and attorney.
ABC News reports eighth-grader Nia Whims was arrested on Nov. 19 after a fellow student impersonated her on Instagram and threatened the school. She was kept in a juvenile detention center for 11 days, through Thanksgiving.
“She was heartbroken. She came home and she threw away her school uniform,” her mother Lezlie-Ann Davis said. In her comments to ABC she said Nia’s experience was “traumatizing.”
“Nobody looked into what damage it did. Emotionally, mentally, you know, and she’s still growing. She’s young and she’s growing. So as adults, a lot of things in our past affect us and I think it’s something that will affect her,” Davis said.
Whims’ family has now filed a lawsuit against Renaissance Charter School at Pines, Instagram, and parent company Meta, seeking “damages in excess of $30,000.”
The lawsuit alleges the defendants engaged in malicious prosecution, violated Whims’ civil rights, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress, while claiming the situation was “the direct and proximate cause of severe mental distress, pain, and anguish which is severe and ongoing and has manifested itself in the daily life of this now young woman.”
“When it comes to our children, law enforcement and our school officials must make sure they do their homework before they put our kids in handcuffs,” the family’s attorney Marwan Porter told ABC. He added, “And we know that, yes, there has been situations that have ended in tragedy where these type of threats need to be taken seriously. But it cannot come at the expense of our children.”
Law enforcement has since charged the girl accused of impersonating Whims with felony written threats to kill or do bodily harm, falsifying a police report, disrupting an educational institution, and criminal use of personal information.