Huron Bully Gets a Wish and Wins Supreme Court Case Against State and Overblown Terrorism Charge – Dakota Free Press

He’s a troublemaker, but not a terrorist – that seems to be the conclusion of the South Dakota Supreme Court in the case of a teenage bully in Huron.

According to the Court’s account of the facts of the case, Huron High School principal Mike Radke sent a fifteen-year-old student, identified as ITB by the court, to the office during lunch on January 30, 2020, for “” on a student who had a behavioral problem. School secretary Romana Olivo told the court that while he waited for Principal Radke to come talk to him, ITB continued to act: lying on the floor, walking in and out of the office, grabbing his scissors on the office, talking about his feelings. like he could kill someone by saying “bomb” and saying he was “joking”. Radke arrived 20 or 30 minutes later, scolded ITB for disturbing the struggling student at lunch, and sent him to class. After Olivo informed the vice principal about ITB’s behavior prior to his meeting with the principal, Radke called ITB back to the office to visit school cop Christian Rodacker. Obviously not keen on another interaction with Officer Rodacker (who testified that he knew this student and that “something similar ha[d] happened a few months before that”), ITB “got angry and left the school compound.

OK, this case is not difficult. You arrest the child for bullying and absenteeism. But the state decided to try to declare him an ITB offender and place him in custody in the Department of Corrections until the age of 21 for making a terrorist threat (see SDCL 22-8-13 ).

The Court says the state chose the wrong fight because ITB did not threaten a crime of violence “with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” The Court finds that saying “bomb” within earshot of another, “without further context, is insufficient to support a determination beyond a reasonable doubt that ITB threatened to commit a ‘crime of violence’…” . Grabbing the scissors and talking about killing people didn’t pose a threat, as the only witness, Olivo, was apparently so sure the student joked that she “didn’t immediately pull the scissors out of ITB’s reach. …”. And breaking new ground in interpreting South Dakota law, the Court declares that the circuit court and the state improperly attempted to inflate “someone” into an entire “civilian population” under threat:

This Court has not yet considered what is meant by “a civilian population”. In People c. morals, the New York Court of Appeals considered the meaning of the phrase “intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population”, noting that the “civilian population” could “encompass a variety of communities depending on the how the relevant “area” is defined and who lives in that area. …However, the court noted that “the concept of terrorism has a unique meaning and its implications risk being trivialized if the terminology is loosely applied in situations that do not correspond to our collective understanding of what constitutes a crime.” terrorist act”. …

In finding that ITB made a terrorist threat, the circuit court did not specifically identify a “civilian population” that ITB intended to intimidate when he made his statements. On the contrary, the court found that ITB acted with the intent to intimidate “someone, even if it was only high school staff.” On appeal, the state argues that the circuit court was referring to the entire high school staff and that such a group of people is sufficient to constitute a “civilian population.” On the contrary, it is clear from the record that the statement in question referred only to the killing of an unidentified person, not a group, and that it was made in the presence of a single person, Olivo . Therefore, while Morales and decisions of other tribunals further address the types of groups that constitute a “civilian population”, we need not make that determination here because the term “population” clearly requires an intent to coerce or intimidate. more than one person, and the evidence is clearly not sufficient to support such a conclusion [South Dakota Supreme Court, In Re Interest of I.T.B., opinion, 2021.07.07, p. 10].

The bully was not trying to strike fear into the entire community through an act of widespread and public violence. He wasn’t trying to shut down the school with an actual bomb threat. He was right-talking and misbehaving, trying to provoke a response and distract from his own bullying…and, thanks to an overzealous prosecutor and an attorney general who doesn’t really understand terrorism, mission accomplished.

About Wesley V. Finley

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