Now, the seventh grader and her mother have filed suit against the school, the local police department, and Instagram’s parent company Meta for thousands of dollars, claiming emotional damages suffered.
Florida Teen Falsely Accused of School Threats
According to media reports, staff at the Miami-area Renaissance Charter School in Pembroke Pines discovered intimidating posts on social media on November 19, including bomb threats and warnings directed at individual students.
The messages were all posted to Instagram, and all reportedly came from an account that listed Whims’ name.
In response, Renaissance was placed under “code yellow,” a protocol signifying that “a situation has arisen requiring all students and all staff to stay in the classrooms.”
Pembroke Pines police told local reporters that they and Broward County prosecutors decided to arrest the 13-year-old after her family “didn’t cooperate with investigators.”
“Due to the exigent nature of the school threats and in accordance with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act, it was determined that probable cause existed to arrest [Whims] due to available evidence as well as multiple witness statements,” the department would later justify the arrest.
Caught on camera in now-infamous footage, officers cuffed the crying seventh grader and escorted her to a squad car. Whims would ultimately be detained in a juvenile facility for 14 days over threats she didn’t make.
The next month, police said the girl’s family “began cooperating” with the investigation. Authorities were granted a subpoena for the IP address linked to the threatening posts, which did not match the IP addresses from the Whims’ home networks, according to reports.
Instead, the menacing messages appeared to come from another Renaissance student — an unnamed 12-year-old, who police believe framed Whims for the violent threats by creating fake accounts and emails under her name.
Posing as her older classmate, detectives said the 12-year-old sent threats to herself and other students from the phony Whims account, and then lied to investigators and school staff.
Based on those findings, the criminal complaint against Whims was dropped. Her 12-year-old classmate is now charged with issuing violent written threats, falsifying a police report, disruption of an educational institution, and criminal use of personal information, sources said.
Nia Whims to Sue School, Police
“At first, I felt really lost about the situation. It was a terrifying experience” the 13-year-old opened up about her arrest in an interview on ABC Tuesday night.
“I kept telling them ‘I didn’t do this,’ but they didn’t listen,” she said. “It was heartbreaking that everybody thought it was me […] I wanted to hide.”
Together with her mom Lezlie Davis, Whims is now filing suit against Renaissance, Pembroke Pines police, and Instagram itself for emotional damages totaling (at least) $30,000.
“It’s very shocking to see a child be handcuffed for something like that, and I just hope that they deal with it in a different way,” Davis told the outlet. “No child should be put in jail and taken away from their family at all.”
In the civil complaint, lawyers for the family allege that Whims was badly bullied at Renaissance, but that staff “failed to investigate or otherwise respond” — creating the environment that led to her being framed, the attorneys claim.
School officials declined to comment on the “pending litigation,” but maintained that they “took all appropriate precautions” on the day of Whims’ arrest.
As for the police department, Whims’ attorney said it was “very clear” authorities “failed to conduct a basic investigation into the false allegations.”
“This could have happened to any one of our babies and we can not and will not tolerate it,” wrote lawyer Marwan Porter.
Pembroke Pines police also declined to comment on the matter.