SIDNEY — Two members of the public addressed Sidney City Council Monday night about their concern of how an incident was handled involving a juvenile who was charged with inducing panic on Wednesday, Jan. 22, after he allegedly made a threat against Sidney High School on Instagram.
According to Sidney City Schools Superintendent Bob Humble, the FBI and local law enforcement notified the school of the threat around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Within minutes, the student was found by the Sidney Police Department. The juvenile was charged with inducing panic and was transported to the Shelby County Juvenile Court to appear before the Shelby County Juvenile Court judge.
Doorley Road resident Nick Inman told council he felt the young man’s Constitutional rights were infringed upon. He said the juvenile shared a TicTok video, and that he did not create it. Inman said the teenager has medical issues and was home from school that day with a sick leave note when he was arrested. He also said the juvenile spent his 15th birthday in detention. Inman further asked if a lawsuit comes forward against the city of Sidney, who would foot the bill. If the city has to spend money on a lawsuit, he said it would take funds away from other necessities in Sidney, such as a new fire station.
“I just think that it’s a high risk thing trying to go through with prosecuting this kid who was 14 and spent his 15th birthday in JDC,” Inman said. “… And the kid who posted it isn’t even the kid who made it. It was a TikTok video. And he shared it. And he is getting targeted. How many times has this video been shared by somebody else but they singled this kid out and he gets charged with it. It puts the city at risk for a lawsuit.”
Inman told council members someone should look into the situation and feels the city should let it go and not prosecute the teenager.
Mike Spencer, of North Wagner Avenue, also spoke up with his concern over how the incident was handled. He conceded that he understands the current “heightened state of fear” in society now, due to terrorism and active shootings, and the need to take some things seriously, but fears it may get out of hand. He said it is common nowadays for teenagers to share videos.
“The content of the videos may be distasteful sometimes, but I don’t think some things warrant filing charges, and even putting a kid in jail, out of what could be perceived as a heightened state of fear and making an example out of them. If someone records their self making a threat towards a specific person or specific place, that’s one thing, but if any of our kids gets on their phone and shares a video, and it’s perceived as a threat and we don’t have the money for a legal defense, then they’re sitting in jail. And like (Inman) said, it could cause a whole slew of problems,” Spencer said.
He urged council members to “take the matter serious, find a way to address it and try to prevent that type of situation from happening.” Spencer said other SHS students have also shared the video on Instagram and his concern is that anyone one could be charged by sharing a video under the same pretense.
After council emerged from an executive session at the end of Monday’s meeting, Sidney City Clerk Kari Egbert said members briefly discussed incident and the residents’ concerns. It was noted the FBI contacted local authorities about the incident, but it is not necessarily an issue for the city to handle. Law Director Jeff Amick said because the situation involves a juvenile, it will be handled by the Shelby County Juvenile Court and the city would not be involved. City staff will contact the men who spoke to let them know who to contact with their concerns.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.