Kootenai Prosecutor Apologizes for Arrest of 9-Year-Old


The arrest warrant for a 9-year-old Post Falls boy over the theft of a pack of gum is now being called "a mistake" by the Kootenai County prosecutor.

The incident, which received national attention, involved a boy accused of taking a pack of gum last summer. The child was issued a misdemeanor charge of petit theft, but when the boy didn't show up for two court appearances, Post Falls Police said they were legally obligated to arrest the boy. Police insist that they never handcuffed or searched the child, but took him to a Coeur d'Alene juvenile detention center for processing. 

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh told the Associated Press that his office had unsuccessfully tried to enroll the boy and his parents in a court diversion program, but now regrets the arrest warrant.

"After reviewing the file today I have concluded that my office's request to have an arrest warrant issued was a mistake under the circumstances," wrote McHugh in a statement. "Knowing the child's age, the charged offense, and other circumstances in the case, we should have attempted this other option."

McHugh said he regretted "this having taken place and will do everything in my power to avoid this type of mistake in the future."