It was shocking news — a 10-year-old North Texas boy was arrested over an alleged neighborhood kid scuffle, something that parents April and Tom Johnson knew nothing about until they sat face-t0-face with local law enforcement on late Friday afternoon, February 20.
CBS DFW first reported that the boy, Preston Johnson, was taken into custody by the Highland Village Police Department through an arrest warrant. Then, the youngster was sent to the Denton County Juvenile Detention Center where he was to remain until Monday, February 23.
However, over the weekend, Breitbart Texas learned that the youngster was released late Saturday afternoon through the efforts of the family’s criminal attorney who obtained an emergency release.
In a joint statement released to Breitbart Texas late Sunday night, February 22, the Johnsons wrote, “No family should ever have their child taken from them in the manner our son was taken.”
The Johnsons described Preston as a “58 pound, never in trouble, honor roll, Cub Scout, choir member, soccer playing son” was hauled off to juvi where “where he was given a yellow jumpsuit and orange Crocs, both big enough for a full grown man.”
The family resides in the respectable Dallas bedroom community of Highland Village. They had no idea that Preston was about to be arrested last Friday. In their statement, they also told Breitbart Texas:
“We were contacted by a detective with the Highland Village Police Department to come in at 4:00 pm and “answer some questions” about an incident allegedly occurring between our 10 year old son and another child, around the same age, in the neighborhood. Prior to this phone call we had no knowledge of this (very minor) alleged incident occurring and found out later it allegedly occurred 9 days prior to us being contacted.
We were told shortly after entering the interview room that they would be taking him into custody. Naturally, this was upsetting as we still had not fully determined what the allegations were. We quickly learned a warrant for his arrest had been obtained earlier in the day and they purposely asked us to arrive at 4:00 pm on a Friday so they could detain him, knowing he would have had to be kept the entire weekend before he could see a judge.”
The Johnsons also wrote that that they “learned the detective had been given discretion to allow (Preston) to stay home and appear the following Monday for a hearing. The detective opted to detain him anyway.”
Consumed by helplessness, the Johnsons expressed in the statement that they did not know what was going to happen to their youngest son once he was turned over to the detention center officials who “knew no personal or medical information about him.”
Furthermore, the Johnsons wrote, “No warrant was ever showed to us or read to us. They took him from us and made us leave immediately.”
At the detention center, the Johnsons described their son as “cold and scared. He had to sleep alone in a cold ‘box’ bed with a sheet and had nightmares. He was not given his morning meds the next morning until after we made them aware he had not been given them when we came for visitation.”
Preston has a medical condition which April mentioned on Facebook where she had been communicating with friends, family, neighbors and supporters to keep them apprised of developments during the traumatic experience.
In the statement, the Johnsons also said, “When we visited with him in the small, cold room he was freezing in the huge jumpsuit with no socks. He was hungry and terrified of the thought of having to spend any more time there. He asked about his brothers and pets. When we left we hugged him and told him we were working hard to get him released and to stay strong.
They emphasized that criminal defense attorney Luke Williams with the Barnett, Howard & Williams, PLLC worked “diligently” on behalf of Preston to obtain the emergency release on Saturday that brought the boy home.
Breitbart Texas spoke to Williams on Monday morning, February 23. He told Breitbart Texas that because of potential pending legal and privacy issues, he could not yet comment on the case. He noted that it is still early in the investigation, although he could confirm that “no major injuries” were involved.
Breitbart Texas also attempted to contact Tracy Oliphant, Deputy Director of Institutions at the Denton County Juvenile Detention Center and the Communications Supervisor for the Highland Village Police Department but did not hear back from them before press time. In fairness, due to inclement weather, many government agencies, including schools were closed across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Breitbart Texas will continue to reach out to these officials as we follow this story.
Meanwhile, the Johnson family “pray for a swift and just end to this dreadful situation” and look toward to healing to take place in the community,” according to their statement.
This is a disturbing trend of childhood on trial. Believe it or not, a 10-year-old can be arrested in Texas because a “juvenile” is defined as a person who is at least 10 years old but not yet 17″ at the time he or she committed an alleged act deemed “delinquent conduct” or “conduct in need of supervision, according to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
Traditional accusations or actual bad behavior that used to get a kid sent to the principal’s office now erupt in cases of school suspension, disciplinary alternative education and juvenile justice placements, arrest, and adult-styled court proceedings. Breitbart Texas recently reported on another Texas boy, nine-year-old Aiden Steward, who was suspended for bringing a “Bilbo Baggins” inspired “magic ring” to school. He was accused of “terrorizing” his classmates for saying he would make them disappear with his pretend Hobbit prop.
Equally disconcerting is that a kerfuffle or the mere allegation of one can escalate into a District Attorney mulling over whether to file Class A Misdemeanor Assault charges against a minor with no criminal history, where due process gets tossed out the window and a young life is potentially derailed forever.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.