A 13-year-old Florida girl who was jailed for nearly two weeks after a classmate threatened their school on social media by pretending to be her is suing the school and Instagram.
Nia Weems, 13, of Pembroke Pines, was accused of threatening to bomb a school in November and was placed in juvenile detention for 11 days. She was exonerated after the authorities discovered that the threats came from a classmate who introduced herself as Nya.
On Wednesday, the teen and her mother, Lezley-Anne Davis, announced their lawsuit against Renaissance Charter School, Instagram and its parent company Meta.
They are asking for a minimum of $30,000 in addition to legal fees and attorneys’ fees. The family also plans to add the Pembroke Pines Police Department to the lawsuit.
Nia and her mother allege that the social media giant was negligent given that evidence of her innocence was “literally available at the push of a button”.
As a result, the lawsuit alleges, Nia faced debilitating and agonizing circumstances during her time in a juvenile detention center.
“When it comes to our babies, when it comes to our children, law enforcement has to make sure they do a thorough investigation,” Marwan Porter, Nia and her family’s attorney, told CBS.
“Another young lady who was in [the detention center]older than [Nia]threatened to stab her for a piece of chocolate,” he added.
Nia Weems (centre), 13, of Pembroke Pines, and her mother Lezley-Anne Davis (right), are suing Renaissance Charter School and Instagram for $30,000 in addition to legal fees and attorneys’ fees.
Nia, a student at Renaissance Charter School in Pembroke Pines, was arrested in November 2021 following threats against staff and students. The police later determined that the threats came from a classmate posing as Nia.
Trial: The school did not act promptly to provide the authorities with information that would prove Nya’s innocence.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in Broward County, alleges that Instagram failed to promptly turn over the information to authorities.
Law enforcement later determined that the threats were sent from an IP address that did not match Nia’s. The seventh grader said the ‘terrifying’ experience made her feel uneasy and is now studying remotely.
“I feel detached. I really don’t want to talk to anyone about the situation,” Nia said.
“At some point, I wanted her to leave so badly that I called my lawyer and thought that I would rather serve time than her. “What can I do?” Davis said of her daughter during a press conference on Wednesday.
The lawsuit also alleges that the school and Instagram demonstrated a “failure to promptly investigate this easily detectable information by Pembroke Pines Police”.
A spokesperson for Renaissance Charter School told the New York Times that the institution “has always taken and always will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”
School staff at the Renaissance charter school where the girl studied found threatening messages posted on Instagram in November, including a bomb threat against the school.
Nia was injured after spending 11 days in a juvenile detention center where an older girl threatened to stab her for a piece of chocolate, her lawyer said.
Nia was handcuffed and held for two weeks while the investigation was carried out.
Nia wipes away a tear as she tells her story to the local 10 with her mother. She is currently studying remotely.
The threats were so severe that the school was given a “code yellow”, meaning that “there is no immediate danger in the building or on campus, but a situation has arisen requiring all students and all staff to remain in the classrooms.”
The Pembroke Police Department said Nia and her family did not initially cooperate with the investigation.
She was placed in the back of a police car in handcuffs as she sobbed.
“Due to the urgent nature of the school threats, and in accordance with the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Act, it has been determined that there is probable cause for the arrest. [the teen] due to the evidence available, as well as numerous testimonies,” the police said in a statement in defense of their actions.
The details of Nia Wim’s wrongful arrest are given in the police documents which can be seen in this report.
But three months after the arrest, the girl’s family began to help the police in the investigation and received a subpoena for the IP addresses associated with the threatening messages.
“No mom wants to see their child taken from them,” said Nia’s mom, Lezley Davis, Local 10, who insisted on a thorough investigation into what she believes could be a lifelong trauma for her daughter.
“Before a child is handcuffed, there must be a thorough investigation and life must not be traumatized,” Davis said.
It wasn’t until a month after 13-year-old Nia was arrested that police finally figured out that she had been framed by a 12-year-old classmate whose name has not been publicly released.
The youth used all of Nia’s personal information to create email addresses and a number of Instagram accounts under her name.
Having done so, the 12-year-old girl sent several threatening messages to students at the school, including herself, in order to keep the lie alive.
Nia was in tears as she was led away from school in handcuffs.
During the interrogation by the police, the girl lied in order to shift the blame on Nia.
“I kept telling them, ‘I didn’t do it,’ but they didn’t listen,” she said.
The charges against the teenager were dropped during the court session on January 28.
During the hearing, the judge was heard apologizing to Nia for what she went through.
“Your case is closed today,” the judge said. ‘Do you have any questions for me? Good luck. I’m so sorry you went through this.
“It’s all right,” Naya replied modestly.
A 12-year-old girl believed to be behind the threats is currently facing charges of threatening to kill or cause bodily harm, falsifying a police report, a fine for disrupting an educational institution, and criminally using personal information.
She was named MS in a lawsuit filed by Nia’s family on Wednesday.
“It was heartbreaking that everyone thought it was me,” Nia told a Florida news station. – I wanted to hide.
“When it comes to our KIDS, educational institutions and law enforcement need to make sure they are doing their HOMEWORK before handcuffing, arresting, and holding students for two weeks,” Porter said in a statement.
“It is clear that the Pembroke Pines Police Department and others involved in this case did not conduct a basic investigation into the false allegations that led to my client’s arrest and severe emotional damage. This could happen to any of our children and we cannot and will not tolerate it.
“My firm is investigating to identify the perpetrators of this travesty and will use every possible option to bring them to justice.”