Sanity seems to have prevailed in Logan County, West Va., in the criminal case against the eighth-grader who was suspended and arrested after he refused to remove a t-shirt supporting the National Rifle Association.
A mere 70 days after the incident occurred, prosecutors have withdrawn the criminal charge of obstructing an officer pending against 14-year-old Jared Marcum, reports WOWK-TV. Judge Eric O’Briant signed the order.
Had prosecutors continued in their attempts to bring Marcum to trial, the boy faced a $500 fine and a maximum of one year in prison. (RELATED: The 14-year-old kid arrested over his pro-NRA shirt now faces a year in jail)
“It should have come sooner but it’s done and we don’t have to have that concern anymore about him having a criminal record,” Marcum’s father, Allen Lardieri, told WOWK. “I’m just glad that it’s over. His mother is glad it’s over.”
Ben White, the attorney for the 14-year-old and his family called to mind the disturbingly large number of overreactions by school officials to things students have worn to school, or brought to school — or talked about bringing to school, or eaten at school — that are not anything like real guns.
“I think, with the gun issue, with what is going on, this is a victory for common sense,” White told the local CBS affiliate.
White added that Marcum’s family plans to move forward with a civil suit against the Logan County School District once the charges are formally and completely dropped.
WOWK has also made public at least one fact about the April incident which started in the Logan Middle School cafeteria and ended in Marcum’s arrest. The teacher who demanded that Marcum remove the shirt was David Burroway, a band teacher.
The school district’s policy doesn’t prohibit the shirt Marcum had worn, as evidenced by the fact that Marcum returned to Logan Middle School after his suspension wearing exactly the same shirt, which depicts a hunting rifle with the statement “protect your right.” (RELATED: Eighth-grader arrested over NRA shirt returns to school in same shirt)
Other students across the rural county showed their support for Marcum by wearing similar shirts to school.
In court papers, the arresting officer, James Adkins, reportedly asserts that the criminal obstruction occurred because he couldn’t get Marcum to stop talking.
As recently as this week, prosecutors had sought a gag order against Marcum, his family and his lawyer. Prosecutors argued that such a gag order was in the juvenile’s best interest. (RELATED: Podunk prosecutors seek gag order against eighth-grader arrested over NRA shirt)
Local police have been receiving several dozen calls each day from random people who are irate about the way local officials have handled the case.
“Our phone calls are unreal,” local police chief E. K. Harper told local NBC affiliate WSAZ. “We’ve got rashes of complaints, threats and everything in here.