State plans to drop charges against teen involved in protest last year
A teen charged with assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest following a scuffle at a protest in Wilmington last September will not be prosecuted, state justice officials confirmed Tuesday.
The teen, who was 14 at the time of the arrest, needs to meet with the arresting officer in a process known as mediation. Then the state Department of Justice will drop the charges.
The News Journal—whichbroke the news of the state’s plan—also reported that video of the protest appeared to contradict the Wilmington Police Department’s claims about the teen’s actions. The protest was over the alleged conduct of a specific Wilmington police officer.
Emeka Igweheads the legal firm representing the teen. He maintains the teen did not touch the officer.
“We're glad and happy that the AG’s office has chosen to resolve this case, and the ultimate result is what we wanted, which is to have the charges dropped,” Igwe said. “But our position is not only should it have not taken this long, it should never have been charged in the first place.”
A Department of Justice spokesperson said after receiving the case materials in late February, the Department “immediately” decided “restorative justice” was the appropriate outcome.
“Restorative justice is an indispensable tool for our office, and for prosecutors across the country, because it prioritizes healing and repairing harm over purely punitive measures that often exacerbate deficits of understanding and trust,” DOJ’s Mat Marshall said in an emailed statement. “We believe this was the most appropriate resolution for this case and will continue to pursue restorative practices where it is safe and appropriate to do so.”
The state alsodropped charges against 20 protesters arrested over the summer.
The Wilmington Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.