Civil Liberties

Lawyers Defend Teen Whose Dinosaur-Hunting Story Got Him Arrested


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Here's an update on the case of Alex Stone, the South Carolina 16-year-old who was arrested after penning an obviously fictional story about shooting a dinosaur as part of a class assignment. I spoke with Stone's lawyer, David Aylor, who told me the situation was handled "inappropriately from the beginning," by police and administrators at Summerville High School.

Stone's teacher read the story in the evening and then immediately emailed the principal. She was disturbed by a phrase in the story, "bought a gun to take care of business," even though the "business" was a dinosaur. The principal then notified the police.

The police report suggests that the entire incident was handled as if Stone was an active shooter, rather than a kid who had written an obviously fantastical story: "While administrators, Officer Floyd and I looked for the suspect all students were held in their homeroom classes, until the suspect was located, bookbag located, and locker was cleared with negative results for a weapon."

Stone was then brought to the principal's office, where police questioned him about the gun comment in the story. He "became very irate stating that it was just a joke," and then "continued to be disruptive and was placed in handcuffs, which were double locked and check for fit, and was advised he was being detained for Disturbing Schools."

According to Aylor, Stone was taken to the police station and booked like a common criminal. He was released after his mother arrived and signed a Custodial Promise form. The charge is "disorderly conduct based on the alleged interviews related to when they were discussing the writing," said Aylor.

Aylor also noted that Stone, who has a learning disability, was suspended from school.

At this point, Stone is in trouble, not because of the story itself, but because of his alleged bad behavior during an interrogation regarding the story. I have a hard time believing that Stone was justifiably arrested, however, given that it's pretty clear the police and administrators were the ones overreacting from the beginning.

Read Aylor's statement—in which he cites Orwell and Shakespeare—here.