Criminal Justice

A Dodgeball Game in Michigan Ends in Assault Charges for 10-Year-Old

A school criminalizes a playground injury.

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An accidental schoolyard injury has resulted in criminal charges against a 10-year-old child in Michigan.

Detroit's WXYZ reports that on April 29, a student at Ruth Eriksson Elementary in Canton was hit in the face with a ball during a game similar to dodgeball—in this game, students throw a ball in the air and catch it when it falls back down. The injured student's mother hit said her child has a medical condition that could be worsened by a head injury, and that her child sustained a black eye, a bruised nose, and a concussion from the ball hit. 

A black student who was playing in the game was accused of intentionally hitting the other student, who is white, in the face. The black student received a one-day suspension. His mother, Cameishi Lindley, hoped that would settle the incident.

But the injured student's mother filed a police report in April, and last week, Lindley received a call from the Wayne County Juvenile Court informing her that her son, who is slated to start fifth grade this year, is being charged with aggravated assault in the Third Circuit Juvenile Court in Detroit. Lindley told WXYZ that she "couldn't believe it." A Facebook fundraiser created by Lindley for legal expenses also indicated that her son was the only student to be punished earlier in the year, despite playing the game with a group of students.

The injured student's mother, who is reportedly a teacher, told WXYZ that her son had been "targeted" twice before, both times in games where contact was to be expected. Lindley told WXYZ that she was sorry "that her child got hurt," but was also "unaware" of any prior incidents.

Lindley's 10-year-old son is set to appear in court on Thursday for a pre-trial conference.

A 2016 report by Reason's C.J. Ciaramella found that the Wayne County criminal justice system has a history of treating minors much more harshly than other counties around the country.

At the time of Ciaramella's report, about 150 juveniles were serving life without the possibility of parole in Wayne County, the highest number in the country. This accounted for 40 percent of the state's juvenile life without the possibility of parole sentences despite making up just 18 percent of the population. The sentences were also found to have disproportionately affected young black Americans.

*UPDATE: Since the initial story broke, prosecutors have decided to drop the charges. Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy released a statement, saying "While the charge in this case is certainly sustainable, I have instructed my staff to dismiss this case today. It is my earnest hope that both sides will come back to the table to work out a solution that benefits both of these children."

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  1. The purpose of dodgeball is to assault.

    1. Common sense Dodgeball background checks and permits should do the trick.

      1. I heard the ball was obtained legally.

        1. I heard the ball was purchased illegally, and the people who used it didn’t have an updated permit to use it.

          1. And it had a capacity of more than 10 psi.

      2. Medical clearances for the players. The student who got hit supposedly has a condition that could be aggravated by the injury, if true, he shouldn’t have been playing that game in the first place.

        1. And his mother is a teacher there? So she knows the way the system works

    2. If you can dodge a bullet…

  2. This is outrageous! I thought dodgeball had been outlawed years ago!

    1. When you outlaw dodge ball, only outlaws will play dodge ball.

  3. That should pretty much end dodgeball at that school district. Frankly, PE – elementary on up – should solely consist of calisthenics anyway. Dodgeball doesn’t even involve team building. It’s a PE teacher getting through a period with minimal effort.

    1. Dodgeball was a team game at my HS. We also had bloodball, which was every man for himself.

      And yes, the gym teachers actually called it bloodball.

      1. It was called murderball at my high school, and was played with basketballs.

        1. Oh, yeah?? Well we used bowling balls!!

          Ok. We just used the standard rubber ball.

        2. It was called fuckyouball at my high school, and we used bowling balls.

  4. When I was a kid we used to have BB gun battles. My one friend got blinded in one eye and it didn’t involve the police or courts. It was play stupid games, win stupid prizes. How times have changed.

    1. Was it a Red Ryder BB gun?

    2. Was it all fun and games up to that point?

    3. When I was a kid someone got hit in the eye with a dirt clod and was in the hospital and nearly went blind.

      No police were called, but damn did our parents put the fear of God into us! I wasn’t anywhere near that dirt clod, but the severity of the incident was made quite clear to me.

    4. When I was a kid we used to have BB gun battles. My one friend got blinded in one eye and it didn’t involve the police or courts. It was play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

      Bottle rocket fights. No one blinded. Multiple close calls.

      1. “Bottle rocket fights. No one blinded.”

        No burns from someone using their ass to hold the bottle rocket’s stick for launch?

  5. So, if true, the child of an over-protective mother gets “picked on” by the other kids. How can this happen?

  6. a game similar to dodgeball—in this game, students throw a ball in the air and catch it when it falls back down.

    Other than a ball being involved, I don’t see how they’re remotely similar.

    1. That’s what I was thinking as well.

    2. It sounds more like a game I’ve come to know as 500 but it’s really weird that they don’t just name the game.

      I can only assume schoolchildren being schoolchildren the game has a name like Buttface McCatchum or Smear the Queer and news agencies are still trying to forget their nonstop coverage of Pussy Riot.

      1. a game I’ve come to know as 500

        Which, you’re supposed to lob the ball up and a targeted throw would be a pretty dirt bag move. But if you suffer a broken nose and a concussion from being hit with a kick ball, you shouldn’t be playing 500.

        1. Dunno, those balls can be thrown hard hard enough to break a nose if they hit at the right angle. Being a nerd as a kid, I was on the receiving end of the ball quite often. They could hurt. Concussion sounds far fetched, but if the it knocked the kid over and he face planted.

          Still, cops are inappropriate, the initial suspension was sufficient. Playground antics with a dodgeball do not rise to the level of criminal assault.

        2. Details are sketchy. Do we know that it was a kick ball and not a different type of ball, like a football? We used to play a game like 500 with a football (you threw a hail mary, not straight up), and I see little reason why 500 couldn’t be played with other types of balls.

          1. We used to play a game like 500 with a football (you threw a hail mary, not straight up)

            Football/hail mary style is how I’ve seen 500 most commonly played but have also seen it played with kick balls and the dollar store bouncy balls with younger kids and/or more leisure.

          2. The way it is written makes it sound like maybe he was punched vs. hit with the ball. What a difference good reporting could make.

    3. and like most kids when by themselves they throw a ball in the air and catch it. If he had done this to himself while playing alone would have been charged with assaulting himself.

  7. I’ve played dodgeball tons of time and never have I seen a dodgeball cause those kinds of injuries. This is a bullshit story. It has nothing to do with an injury due to an accident or normal play. An assault occurred.

    1. I disagree slightly. Two things possibly occurred:

      1. An assault.
      2. The kid shouldn’t have been playing whatever game he was playing.

      Neither the game nor the medical condition are made very clear and there are certainly lots of medical conditions that are incompatible with lots of games.

    2. If the ball is thrown into the air and kids have to fight for it, I can see a few elbows being thrown. But, that sounds like the nature of the game, so it’s pretty ridiculous to arrest a 10 year old kid for trying to win.

    3. I think you mean battery vs assault.

  8. The injured student’s mother, who is reportedly a teacher, told WXYZ that her son had been “targeted” twice before, both times in games where contact was to be expected.

    So this was an attack on the state.

  9. Holy moly. You should have seen our hockey games.

    The people of today would recoil in horror.

    1. I was thinking similarly. Somebody above mentioned a game they played in High School with basketballs called ‘murderball’ and, IMO, any game not played in full pads for 10+ hours in 100+ degree heat cannot rightly be called murderball. Get to hour 9, after you’ve weeded out all the weaklings suffering from heat exhaustion and then start an 30 min. game of smear the queer.

      I broke probably close to half a dozen bones in 4 yrs., none of them mine. Good times.

      1. we played dog pile which was any kid who got the ball got jumped on by everyone trying to get the ball by any means, kicking, punching ten kids on top of you etc. Any kid who got then got that ball then ran and was the next target. the winner was the last one to have the ball when recess ended. it was fun

        1. “smear the queer”

          1. Or “kill the carrier,” neither of which is an acceptable name nowadays.

  10. This Reason story and the one it linked to are great examples of bad journalism. They are designed to get us outraged. The fact is, none of us know what the heck happened. Reason wants us to believe it was an accident and so that happens in dodgeball. But the fact that charges were brought should be a huge hint that there is more than meets the eye here. Were they even on opposite teams? The story does not even address that salient point. And Reason ignores the fact that the mom says he was “targetted” twice before. That too should be a big hint that this may not be your normal dodgeball experience.

    I too am skeptical about bringing in criminal charges. Even if this was a flagrant beat-down with a ball of a fellow teammate it should be handled by the school, not the police. Or maybe not. I don’t knw how vicious this may have been. No one could know that by reading this story. So please folks. Instead of being outraged suspend judgement until you know what the heck happened.

    1. This Reason story and the one it linked to are great examples of bad journalism.

      Agreed. Absolutely terrible. Not even good as a work of fiction.

      Were they even on opposite teams? The story does not even address that salient point. And Reason ignores the fact that the mom says he was “targetted” twice before. That too should be a big hint that this may not be your normal dodgeball experience.

      The game wasn’t dodge ball. It sounds, IMO, like 500. In which case, the game is played with the ball being lobbed, like a pop fly, and one kid threw a line drive at the other’s face, repeatedly. One or both kids should not have been playing after the first and certainly after the second incident. The school is as much if not more to blame than the child but, as you say, facts are few and the narrative smells like shit.

      1. the mother is to blame for allowing her kid with special requirements to not be hit to play a game where contact is know happen.

        1. Conditionally true. If she told the school not to let him play and they let him play, I could see how the school might be at fault too.

  11. Race should not have been explicit in this article.

  12. So a kid with a medical condition has repeatedly engaged in play likely to aggravate that condition? Why hasn’t CPS taken him from his negligent parent?

    1. I like how the prosecutor clarifies that they were totally within their rights to charge the 10-year-old with assault. “While the charge in this case is certainly sustainable”…

      The prosecutor is never wrong, ever. They’re just flashing their immense power to ruin the life of a 10-year-old child.

    2. “Worthy’s statement began by noting that the boy was never arrested”

      That makes me feel better about the whole situation. It’s one thing to announce charges. It’s much worse to actually arrest a 10 year old.

  13. Why do I feel like I’m missing some very important facts in this story? I feel like there’s more going on than some errant ball accidentally hitting this kid in the face. That happened even with the hard rubber balls in my high school during kickball and nobody got that jacked up. Maybe a little bit of a shiner with a bit of red skin but nothing that crazy.

  14. Good news everybody.

    The charges are dropped. But the dems have noted the prosecutors did not exonerate the kid of the crime.

  15. Maybe the real attackers were a pair of body builder brothers from Chicago.

    1. You’ve got the wrong fake Chicago narrative. Black kids assaulting a handicapped white kid because of Trump is not a hate crime.

  16. When I was a kid, no one wore a helmet while on a bicycle, and there was no such thing as a kid carseat. Yet we survived somehow.

    1. Are you sure? Maybe you died and this is hell. 🙂

      1. Nope. I lived until those darn tax cuts.

  17. Next up: football players arrested for battery for tackling their opponents.

  18. The problem is that Reason missed the facts, the alleged throw happened after the game was over. The game may be “like” dodgeball but the difference is that you’re not supposed to throw the ball at other players. This situation is more complex than this version of the story let’s on but the right way to handle it is through two open-minded parents leading their children through common dispute resolution; however, one kid IS a bully and one kid IS overly sensitive. Damn I miss commonsense.

  19. “The injured student’s mother hit said her child has a medical condition that could be worsened by a head injury…”

    What is the word “hit” doing in the sentence above? Where are all those ‘at large’ editors when you need them?

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