Family of 13-Year-Old Florida Girl Who Was Wrongfully Arrested After Classmate Impersonated Her and Made Threats Against Their School Files Lawsuit Against the School and Instagram

Nia Whims, 13, right, with her mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, in Miramar, Fla., on Wednesday. | Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

The family of a Florida girl who was held in a juvenile-detention center for 11 days after a classmate impersonated her on social media to make threats against their school has filed a lawsuit against the school and Instagram for their roles in the episode.

For the girl, Nia Whims, being jailed was “a horrifying experience,” a lawyer representing her said at a news conference on Wednesday. “She knew she didn’t do anything wrong, and yet here she is, behind bars.”

Nia’s mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, said her daughter was “heartbroken” by what happened. After Nia was released from custody, on Nov. 29, “she threw away her school uniform,” Ms. Davis said.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in state court in Broward County, accuses Nia’s school, Renaissance Charter School at Pines, and Meta, the social media giant that owns Instagram, of failing to protect her. The lawsuit says the family is also planning to add the Pembroke Pines Police Department in the suit.

Police officers arrested Nia without sufficient proof that she had written the threatening messages, the lawsuit claims.

Last week, the police department said in a statement that Nia’s family had delayed cooperating with the investigation, a claim that the family has denied.

The lawsuit also blames Instagram for not quickly providing the authorities with information that would have proved the teenager’s innocence. That information, the lawsuit says, is “literally available at the press of a button.”

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Azi Paybarah