An 11-Year-Old’s Robbery Charges Were Dropped. Then He Was Arrested Again.

From a Washington Post story by Keith L. Alexander headlined “An 11-year-old’s robbery charges were dropped. Then he was arrested again.”:

In early June, D.C. prosecutors dismissed criminal charges against a notable offender: an 11-year-old who police alleged was responsible for an assault and two robberies the previous month.

But the youth, who agreed to stay out of Northwest D.C. and wear an ankle monitor if a probation officer determined it was necessary to resolve the charges, didn’t stay out of the court system for long. On Wednesday, he appeared virtually in court again — in connection with another robbery.

On June 16, 11 days after documents show the youth’s prior charges were dismissed, he was arrested on charges of armed robbery and carrying a pistol without a license. According to a police report, he and two others tried to steal a delivery driver’s moped that was parked outside a Chick-fil-A in Northwest D.C., then threatened to shoot the driver when he objected. A D.C. prosecutor said at Wednesday’s hearing that the office was “working on a possible plea” offer with the youth related to the new charges, which include robbery while armed, threats to injure a person and carrying a pistol without a license.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, which prosecutes juvenile cases in the city, declined to comment on the case, citing laws that prohibit officials from disclosing details of cases involving youths. But the office said it “prosecutes all serious and violent crimes committed by juveniles, including carjacking and armed robbery, where we have the evidence needed to do so.”

“We also advocate for every young person who commits a crime to receive services and support they need to prevent them from reoffending, including mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and educational supports,” the statement said. “Prosecutors respond to crime after it happens-and we are doing that by vigorously prosecuting juvenile cases that are presented to us-but to make DC safer, we need a city-wide strategy to intervene early, before a child ever gets to the point of committing a crime.”

D.C. authorities are struggling with violence against and perpetrated by juveniles, and some fear that younger children are more at risk than they used to be.

The Washington Post generally does not name those charged with crimes as juveniles and was allowed to attend the hearing Wednesday on the condition that the youth’s identity not be revealed.

According to a police report, the youth and two others grabbed the food delivery driver’s moped at about 5 p.m. from outside the Chick-fil-A in the 3100 block of 14th Street NW and began pushing it eastbound in the 1300 block of Irving Street NW. Describing security footage reviewed by detectives, the report alleges the owner of the moped ran after them.

“It’s mine, please. I’m working,” the owner is heard saying, according to the report.

“Come get your moped. It’s right there,” the youth responds.

According to the report, the moped’s owner is soon seen with his hands in the air “in a surrender style gesture,” and the youth runs after him, clutching his waistband.

“If you don’t move out of the way, I’m going to shoot you,” the youth says, according to the report.

The moped driver summoned police, who found the youth and another suspect wearing the same clothes as the people they saw in the security videos, according to the report. The victim identified that youth and another suspect as the people involved in the incident.

During a brief hearing Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court, the youth, his attorney, his probation officer and a prosecutor with the city’s Office of the Attorney General appeared virtually before Judge James Crowell. A probation officer said the youth, who has been released into his mother’s custody, was compliant with his curfew, but there had been “issues” with his GPS bracelet. The probation officer said the youth’s mother was concerned about her son’s drug use, and the officer asked that he undergo drug testing.

The probation officer also said the mother was having trouble placing her son in school because of his “behavior issues,” and he requested the youth be evaluated to determine if any psychological challenges were affecting his education.

Crowell said he was “concerned” about the youth’s issues with his GPS monitor. “If things don’t improve, I will have to modify his placement. If things don’t get better, I will have to place him in a shelter,” the judge told the youth’s probation officer and his attorney.

A follow-up hearing was scheduled for Sept. 5.

Keith L. Alexander covers crime and courts, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases, for The Washington Post. Alexander was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that investigated fatal police shootings across the nation in 2015.

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