A fourteen year old helps stranded 3 year old and gets charged with "false imprisonment." An Orange County teenager, identified only as Edwin, was shopping with his mother in the Burlington Coat Factory when he stumbled upon a lone three year old little girl. Edwin could not predict that Orange County police would arrest him after a frantic 911 call placed by the toddler's mother, an extensive investigation, and surveillance video review.
Details of the incident are rather vague. Apparently Edwin promised the lost little girl he would help find her mother. Edwin's mother also volunteered to help the little girl find her parent. Edwin assumed that the little girls' mother was one of many in a group of women leaving the store so he led the little girl outside. Edwin's mother followed the pair as surveillance video supports. Meanwhile, the little girls mother frantically searched the store for her missing daughter after "losing track" of the little girl while returning an item. A bystander reported the little girl had just left the store with the boy, described as "big enough to pass for a defensive lineman."
The surveillance video depicts the girls mother running from the store. Edwin maintains after ascertaining that not one in the group of women he and the toddler followed outside were the little girl's mother, they returned inside. The video also shows Edwin and his mother reuniting the little girl with her mom. Then a store clerk called 911 to report the incident, believing that Edwin attempted to kidnap the little girl. Authorities arrived and handcuffed Edwin after apprehending him in the shoe department. Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jeff Williamson stated that the police "tried to be sensitive to the fact he was 14. We made an effort to keep direct questions out of his face." Reporters managed to question the boy with two members of the press thrusting microphones at Edwin, posing "Can you tell us why you're in handcuffs? Did you try to kidnap someone?" The press then aired the footage after identifying Edwin, on television and on a website.
The toddler's mother never pressed charges but the Sheriff's Department did, citing "false imprisonment." Captain Angelo Nieves justified the charges with "He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so. The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur."
Check back for more as the story unfolds.