Quantavious Eason was 10 when he was arrested in August by police in Senatobia, Mississippi, 40 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. He was charged in youth court with being a child in need of supervision, his family’s attorney, Carlos Moore, has said.
In December, Tate County Youth Court Judge Rusty Harlow said Quantavious must serve 3 months of probation and write a two-page report on Bryant, the NBA legend who died in 2020, Moore said. But the child’s mother, Latonya Eason, refused to sign the probation agreement and asked for the charge to be dismissed because she said the terms of the agreement were similar to those prosecutors would demand of an adult, including that Quantavious submit to drug tests at a probation officer’s discretion, Moore said. The agreement also imposed an 8 p.m. curfew.
At a hearing Monday, Harlow dismissed the youth court petition that sought to designate the child as one in need of supervision, Moore said, adding that he planned to sue the city, its police chief and the officers involved in Quantavious’ arrest. Moore said the child’s arrest and probation sentence were racially motivated.
“I’m 99.9% sure that had he been a white child, he would not have been arrested,” Moore said in an interview Tuesday.
Eason has said Quantavious urinated behind her vehicle while she was visiting a lawyer’s office in Senatobia on Aug. 10. Senatobia has a population of about 8,330. Moore said there was no public restroom at the attorney’s office, that Quantavious did not expose himself and that the child did what any reasonable person would have done. Officers arrested Quantavious, put him in a squad car and took him to the police station.
Moore said Tuesday that he had initially agreed to probation but that once he and Eason realized that Quantavious would have been treated like an adult, “we went back and asked the judge to dismiss the case in total or set it for trial.”
An official at the Tate County Youth Court told NBC News on Tuesday that it could not comment because juvenile cases are sealed. Paige Williams, the Tate County Youth Court prosecutor appointed to the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Moore said that should raise concerns given Quantavious’ experience.
“Youth court is not subject to public disclosure, so nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors because it’s confidential,” Moore said. “This may bring to light the need for some transparency in youth court, otherwise people could be getting railroaded and nobody knows.”
In August, Senatobia Police Chief Richard Chandler appeared to comment on Quantavious’ arrest without naming him, in a statement posted to the department’s Facebook page. He said that several Senatobia officers had been involved in an incident involving a 10-year-old and that the officers’ decisions violated the department’s written policy and went against its “prior training on how to deal with these situations.”
Chandler said then that the incident triggered an internal complaint and was investigated; he also said that one of the officers who took part in the arrest was “no longer employed,” and the other officers would be disciplined without specifying what type of discipline they would face. He also didn’t specify whether the former officer was fired or quit.
The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.