POST FALLS, Idaho – An Idaho prosecutor said he made a mistake requesting an arrest warrant for a 9-year-old boy held in custody for three days after being accused of stealing a pack of gum.
Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said Monday that his office should have instead sought a child protection investigation that would have led to a more informed decision.
"I have concluded that my office's request to have an arrest warrant issued was a mistake under the circumstances," McHugh said in a statement filed after a weekend in which the boy's arrest gained widespread attention. "I regret this having taken place and will do everything in my power to avoid this type of mistake in the future."
First District Court Judge Lansing Haynes authorized the warrant requested by McHugh's office after the boy twice failed to show up in court.
Post Falls Police Chief Scott Haug said the child missed court because relatives had no way of getting him to the courthouse. The child was taken into custody on Jan. 6.
"He was not treated like an adult, and simply given a ride to the Juvenile Detention Center," Haug told the Coeur d'Alene Press (http://bit.ly/1AbFcEC). "No officer wants to do this. It's unfortunate that it got to this point."
Haug said security video involving the arrest can't be released because it involves a minor.
The boy was held at the juvenile detention center until being released Friday after a court hearing, the newspaper reported. McHugh said the case against the boy is pending.
McHugh said efforts had been made to enroll the boy and his parents in a diversion program, but they missed court dates.
"Had we known (the missing court dates) was a transportation issue, we could have gotten the child a ride to court," Haug said.