The family of a 16-year-old who killed himself hours after police officers confronted him about an alleged recording of a sexual encounter on his phone is planning to file a lawsuit against both the school district and the police department.
“I think they wanted to scare him straight,” Maureen Walgren told the Chicago Tribune. “Instead, they scared him to death.”
Her son, Corey, in January committed suicide by falling from the top of a five-story parking garage shortly after officers showed up at Naperville North High School to question him about illicit material they believed he had on his phone. They were investigating claims that he possessed and then played a recording of a consensual encounter with another 16-year-old student for his friends.
Corey had never been in any trouble at school, and he didn’t have a criminal record, but he was called down to the dean’s office on Jan. 11 where Naperville police were waiting for him.
They questioned him about having and sharing “child pornography” and allegedly threatened that he’d be put on the sex offender registry, according to the newspaper.
While investigators did find audio of the sexual encounter, they did not intend to press any charges — they’d only hoped to make Corey understand the seriousness of his actions without affecting his record, according to documents cited by the Tribune.
Walgren said the officer intended to download the contents of Corey’s phone but needed a parent’s permission first. When they reached out for her approval, she told them she would be at the school within 50 minutes.
When she arrived at the high school in West Chicago, her son was already gone. Walgren said her concern was immediate.
The officer “looked at me and said, ‘Ma’am, do we have a reason to be concerned for his safety?’” she recalled. “Under normal circumstances no, but you scared him pretty good.”
Corey was pronounced dead at the hospital less than three hours after he’d been called down to the dean’s office. His parents said they hope the legal action they’re taking against the school will prompt a change in how issues with minors are handled.
“There has to be a change in their policy and their procedures,” Walgren said. “Corey’s death cannot go by with no meaning at all.”
There DEFINITELY has to be a change in their policy and procedures.