The attorney for a 14-year-old boy accused of taking a toddler out of an Orange County store said the boy did nothing wrong, the charge should be dropped and the record of the arrest should vanish.
The boy, his mother and the attorney appeared on ABC-TV's Good Morning America from the family's Minneola home Thursday.
In the interview, the boy said he was just trying to help the little girl find her mother and that if faced with the same situation again, he would seek help from an adult first.
"I would still want to help people, but I would go to an adult to ask for help to find the missing parent of the child," the boy said. "I was just trying to help."
His Orlando attorney, Natalie Jackson, told the national audience she had asked the State Attorney's Office not to go forward with filing charges against the boy.
She also wanted the Sheriff's Office to wipe out his arrest record by 5 p.m. Thursday.
The State Attorney's Office said it was reviewing the case and had not made a decision on charges. A message to the Sheriff's Office was not returned.
Jackson told the Orlando Sentinel she sees "lessons in this whole experience for everyone."
"But the lessons shouldn't be learned on the back of a 14-year-old kid," she said.
She said the boy's summer break should not be held up any further.
"It just baffles me," Jackson said of the case progressing and not being dropped. "You didn't even have anyone saying [her client] did anything."
Jackson said she would like to see prosecutors close the case by not filing charges and then see the Sheriff's Office take steps to make sure the child's arrest record is expunged.
"This is a case my firm took on pro bono because it's just wrong," Jackson said.
"A person's constitutional rights should never be trampled on by overzealous police officers." J Willie David III, president of the Florida Civil Rights Association, said in a prepared statement Thursday night. The group, he said, "believes that the detectives pushed the arrest and charge of this teen a little too far."
Orange deputies responded to the Burlington Coat Factory on West Colonial Drive about 5 p.m. June 10 in response to a report that someone had tried to kidnap a child.
Store surveillance cameras showed the boy walking out of a store with the 3-year-old girl. The girl's mother is then seen running out of the store and walking back in with her daughter.
The boy and his mother then also walked back into the store and shopped.
The boy told deputies that he was trying to help the girl find her mother and had walked out with her because he thought her mother was outside. He was unable to find her mother and was walking back with her toward the store when the girl's mother found them outside, he told authorities.
In the televised interview, the mother of the boy said the girl's mother thanked her son for finding the little girl before returning to the store. The girl's mother is not pressing charges.
A judge ordered the boy detained at home until a June 24 hearing.
Jackson said the boy wants to play football for school and is missing out on weight-training sessions.
"What he did doesn't meet the elements of the crime," she said.
Anika Myers Palm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5022. Anthony Colarossi can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5447.
'I was just trying to help,' teen accused of taking tyke says on GMA
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.