A 13-year-old boy was arrested Wednesday and faces a felony charge for allegedly hitting a Chicago police officer in the arm with a snowball. The boy said he was wrongly implicated, as he was in a crowd of kids walking home from school.
The officer said the snowball hit him in the arm as he sat in his marked squad car, the Chicago Tribune reported. The boy was taken into custody and charged as a juvenile with aggravated battery to a “peace officer,” which is a felony.
The incident occurred around 15:30 CST on Wednesday afternoon, a block away from where the boy – unnamed since he is a minor – attends school in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.
The eighth grader said he had just gotten out of school and was with around 15 classmates when someone else threw the snowball, which, he told the Tribune, didn’t actually hit the officer.
"It made me mad," the boy told the Tribune. “He [the officer] said the snowball hit him but it hit the car, not him."
The boy said the school’s dean and security guard were nearby. He told his mother that the dean implicated him for throwing the snowball.
"He kept trying to tell the officer that he didn’t do it but they didn’t believe him," the boy's mother said. "He was standing on the corner, there was a whole crowd of kids. It’s so crazy."
George Leland Elementary School Dean Lenard Robertson told the Tribune, “I have absolutely no comment.”
In addition to the charges, the school levied a five-day suspension against the boy, his mother said.
"It’s sad, he’s only 13. I’m so upset, he’s never been in trouble before," she said. "It’s his first case."
Chicago police confirmed it was his first arrest. They added that the boy has no known gang affiliation.
Nearby residents and workers said the felony charge was overly harsh, especially considering the boy’s age and what a felony means for his criminal record and future prospects.
"I think that's ridiculous – it's such a big charge," Latanya Powell, a construction worker on the block told DNAinfo.com Chicago. "It's just going overboard. I can see if it were a weapon and harm was done, but it was just a snowball.”
Powell added, “This is a case of kids being kids."
Another nearby resident supported the charges.
"If [the boy] had gotten away with it, who's to say what they'd do next? If it doesn't stick to them now, they'll be 16 or 17, and they'll have a gun," Ray Fields said, telling DNAinfo.com that he has teaching experience and that his own home was burglarized by teens in 2010.
The boy is scheduled to appear in juvenile court on March 12, according to police.