LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The 10 -year-old boy accused of threatening Patriot Elementary School and then arrested by the Lee County Sheriff's Office pleaded not guilty in court Monday.
The child's plea came despite the public defender not appearing in person, but with the parents' permission, the plea was accepted by the judge.
The arrest happened back in May and has received national attention, thanks in part to a video posted by the sheriff's office showing a deputy leading the boy in handcuffs in what is known as a "perp walk."
The boy’s father, Derek Marquez, says his son was wrongfully arrested because he never made threats of any kind. He's also upset about the way LCSO handled his son’s arrest by publishing his arrest video.
The images of his song in handcuffs and being escorted into a patrol car were shared by the LCSO office.
In the video, you could see the boy’s face. Because the Sheriff's Office released this arrest online, it is likely to remain on the Internet without including the ultimate outcome of the case. As this child has not yet been convicted of any crime, Fox 4 is refraining from showing his face or airing his name at this time.
The 10-year-old is accused of texting a classmate a picture of money and a gun and then later writing, "get ready for water day."
The Lee County State's Attorney's Office has charged the boy with one count of a written threat to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.
Marquez admits that the text his son sent did include guns but says the texts were innocent and in no way a threat.
I'm a constituent. I'm a resident of Lee County. As far as I know, the sheriff's job is to protect the residents of his community. Instead of using them, to crucify them to further his own political agenda.
Soon after the arrest, Fox 4 sat down with sheriff Carmine Marceno who said his detectives made the arrest to keep the community safe.
"I'm gonna be known as the sheriff that is consistent with his message of no-nonsense, zero-tolerance," Marceno said, "and also the sheriff who is doing everything possible to tell parents and guardians that we're here to help you."
The family is working with the advocacy group The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism.
They believe the boy's civil rights were violated with the release of his name and mugshot. Whether or not they will file a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office remains to be seen.