Free-Range Kids

Mom Sues Cops Who Arrested Her for Leaving 14-Year-Old Daughter Home Alone

"When my daughter was 12 she'd walk down the streets of Shanghai to get donuts," says the mom, Megan McMurry.

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A federal judge has ruled that two cops who work at a public school in Midland, Texas, can be sued for seizing a 14-year-old from her family's apartment because she was there alone. Despite her pleas, the officers did not let the girl call her parents for hours, nor would they let her pick up the phone when her father called. They also searched the family's home without a warrant.

School Resource Officers Kevin Brunner and Alexandra Weaver do not enjoy blanket qualified immunity, ruled U.S. District Judge David Counts, in a case that began with a mom making painstaking plans for her children's supervision when she had to be out of the country for five days and her husband was deployed overseas.

In 2018, Megan McMurry was a special education teacher at a Midland junior high school, married to Adam McMurry, a soldier in the Mississippi Army National Guard. The family had lived in six countries over the course of 10 years, and her kids were used to independence.

"When my daughter was 12 she'd walk down the streets of Shanghai to get donuts," says McMurry.

When the family moved to Midland, the daughter, Jade, opted for online homeschooling. She was home alone for a good part of each day, which is perfectly legal, so long as a parent is not putting a child in harm's way.

In the meantime, McMurry took her 12-year-old son Connor with her to the junior high across town where she worked. He had perfect attendance.

But when the family learned their dad, overseas already, was being mobilized for another stint in Kuwait, McMurry thought the family should consider moving there to be together. She had a job offer at a Kuwaiti school and wanted to visit it before making her decision.

Her kids didn't want to come on the five-day trip—in part because Connor didn't want to ruin his perfect attendance streak—so McMurry arranged for the kids to be in the care of neighbors, Vanessa and Gabe Vallejos. Jade, the 14-year-old, babysat the Vallejos family's six-year-old for several hours every afternoon, so the families were close.

As for Connor getting to school, McMurry arranged for the school's counselor—another nearby neighbor—to drive him.

On Thursday night, October 25, 2018, she boarded the plane for Kuwait.

On Friday morning, the school counselor realized she wouldn't be able to pick up Connor after all, and asked the school resource officer—Weaver, who also lived nearby—to drive him instead. When Weaver didn't answer her telephone, the counselor arranged for someone else to drive the boy, according to McMurry.

Weaver called Child Protective Services (CPS) to report children left home alone. She also called her supervisor, Brunner, and the two went to the McMurry home for a welfare check on Jade.

This is where things got ugly.

The cops had the apartment building manager knock on the family's door. Jade answered and the cops told her she shouldn't be home alone. Jade started crying and asked to call her dad, McMurry says. But the cops wouldn't allow it. They did allow her to change into warmer clothes, since they were going to take her away for an interrogation. While she was in her room she managed to text her dad, "I'm scared! The police are here."

Meanwhile, Weaver went rifling through the cabinets.

The cops put Jade in the squad car and drove her to the middle school her brother was attending, according to McMurry. Bodycam footage shows her crying and begging the cops to let her call her father, but they refused to do so.

At the school, the cops kept Jade in their custody for several hours as they questioned her, asking things like, "Were you going to have a party?" They pulled Connor out of class and questioned him, too.

Meanwhile, CPS dispatched an investigator to the school. He asked the cops if they had called the parents.

McMurry says that when the cops said no, the CPS investigator was incredulous, since that's the first thing they're supposed to do.

Attorneys for Brunner and Weaver did not respond to requests for comment.

The CPS investigator was dismayed that the cops had told his agency that the children were abandoned and truant, because obviously Connor was at school, and the cops were also aware that Jade was homeschooled. (Believe it or not, Weaver and McMurry had been friends before this.) When Jade explained the arrangements her mom had made for their supervision, and CPS ascertained this was all true, it closed the case then and there.

But the cops did not.

When McMurry returned from Kuwait, she faced two felony charges of child abandonment. She turned herself in and spent 19 hours in jail before being released on bail.

Long story short, almost a year later—she was suspended without pay the entire time— McMurry's case came to trial. Brunner claimed to be on a prearranged vacation. McMurry, eager to get the case heard, allowed the trial to proceed without him.

Her neighbors, the Vallejoses, testified. The CPS investigator and his supervisors testified. The school counselor testified. Connor and Jade testified. When Weaver testified and was asked why she didn't let Jade talk to her dad, she replied she hadn't wanted to worry the man. In fact, here's some of the transcript:

Q: Do you not remember Jade telling you that her dad is trying to call her and you told her not to answer that phone?

A: Now that you've stated that, I do recall that occurring.

Q: So her father is trying to call her when you're taking her from her home to Abell Middle School and you're telling her…not to answer the phone when her father is calling?

A. Correct I didn't want to cause him any undue stress.

The trial took four days. The jury deliberated for five minutes and found McMurry not guilty.

Now McMurry is suing the officers for violating her Fourth and 14th Amendment rights. Her suit alleges that they searched her home without a warrant and seized her daughter illegally. The cops are not supposed to remove children from a home without alerting the parents, unless there is an immediate threat to the children's life and limb. Since the law is so well-established on those protocols that the officers had to have been aware of them, the federal judge has waived their plea for qualified immunity and is allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

This is particularly sweet for McMurry because she knows what actual abandonment looks like.

"My mother was a drug-addicted drug dealer," she says. "I grew up in foster care from the time I was 11. I would be in a two-week shelter, then a 30-day shelter, you know how it goes. I went to 25 different high schools by the time I graduated with a 4.0."

It was her hard-won resilience that got her to adulthood, and resilience is exactly what she and her husband are trying to instill in their kids. That's why she let them stay home without her. She knew they'd be responsible, and she knew this was not something impossible for young people to handle.

Clearly, the apple is not falling far from the tree. In a letter to the circuit court, Jade wrote that she wants everyone "to know what these two officers did to me and my family for no reason."

"My parents have taught me to work hard for anything I want and to self-advocate," wrote Jade. "I may not have known my rights that day, and they definitely didn't inform me either, but I knew what they were doing was wrong."

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  1. These assholes – School Resource Officers Kevin Brunner and Alexandra Weaver – should be summarily dismissed.

    1. Dismissed “with extreme prejudice”.

      CB

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    3. Send them on a fact-finding trip to Kuwait. On their schedule: target holding at the US Army rifle range.

    4. You misspelled ‘executed’.

    5. When you treat people like children their whole lives, they will always act like children. Throughout history, kids did chores, clean home, worked, and cooked by themselves because parents had to work. My mom was an example. At the age of nine, I helped take care of the house until she came home. This is ridiculous!

      1. the two gummit dweebs who violated the rights of these two chindren AND their parents are nowhere near as mature as these two kids.

        I know’children” at 12, 13, 14, who are fully capable of mnaging the large household. Mom VERY pregnant and not able to do much, these kds take care of the five littler ones, get the meals planned and on the table on time, see to the clearing up and washing up afte,r, and have fuun all the time together. I met one woman a few year back swho was in her 80’s at the time. (she was the Mum of a friend’s wife, and visiting at the same time I was. VERY interesiting woman). As we shared about ourselves she told me how she was “traded off at the age of 14 to a nighbour for a tractor”. True story. He had been widoed, was in his 50’s, she was the last chid at home, her mother having died shen she was nine.. so she ran the home wilst her Dad was out working the fields, and did a fair bit of the work around the farm, too. They had six children togethe,r her husband had sight from his first marriage. She was far younger than almost al of her step siblings.

        None of that mattered. She continued to run the household of her new husband at 14, bore and raised her own chidlren, and was now enjoying life as a VERY healthy and hardy grandmother and great grandmother. NO ONE ever would have dreamt of her history meeting her when I did.

        The reason kids are so imconpetent and irresponsible today is government FORCES that upon them. When I was 14 I had my own paint contracting business. Rode my bike to the jobs. Made well above mininumn wage, and it was all legal. Now, an older kid in high school can’t even work on his Fathers farm legally. Can’t even hire kid to mow the lawn any more inmost states. And the “school” systems perpetuate and promote that infantile childhood.
        I hope these two coppers get slammed hard. They KNEW what was going on, just wanted to play “da boss”.

        1. The infantilization of American kids is why we have so many young men in their late 20’s who have the maturity of middle school kids. And partly why so many Americans want Uncle Sugar to take care of their health care, their rent, and damn near everything else, and vote that way.

    6. All immunities are an abomination. Immunity also justifies violence in formal logic. Formal logic has more certainty than the laws of physics.

      The contrapositive of a true assertion is also true. “All bats are mammals. This animal is not a mammal. It cannot be a bat. (A>B is true. Not B>not A is true.)

      Legal liability was a great invention to replace endless cycles of violent revenge, hostage taking, and violent outbursts. It made societies livable. (A>B). All immunities justify revenge, hostage taking, and violence (Not B > Not A).

    7. Dismissed? They should be in jail. Kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, illegal search and seizure, just for starters.

      1. As soon as the last word “stress” was said, the judge should have called for an immediate 5 o’clock public hanging. How the judge overlooked this obvious forfeiture of all rights to a jury trial is beyond the pale. In fact, we should take a closer look at why the judge unrepentantly spared weevers life without cause.

    8. Also charged with kidnapping and child abuse, contributing to the delinquency of minors and whatever else you can think of.

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  3. This story just goes to show how adaptive, rich and diverse the human mind can be when solving problems, and the catastrophe that occurs when the government gets involved. It also shows that what we often refer to as “free markets” is really just free association.

    On the one hand, we had a community who relied on their freedom of association to communicate their unique needs and constraints to collectively integrate that information and solve for these kids’ education. Some had free time in the morning, and some were near the kids which gave them ability to care for them at night. It is the sort of distributed problem solving you see in free markets all the time, except on a social level.

    On the other hand, we see what happens the second a single person acting as an authority gets involved. Much like with complex markets, the person is incapable of grasping the many interactions, and immediately jumps in to wrest control.

    2020 is full of stories about how small businesses also tried solving for problems- restaurants selling surplus food as groceries. Breweries producing anti-bacterial lotion. Local community groups banded together to sew improvised masks, and different companies collaborated to make ventilators. Even the much ballyhoo’d “Toilet Paper Crunch” as supply lines were disrupted was short lived. Nobody starved or went without heat, water or power.

    Indeed, the major problems over 2020 were actually caused by government- shutting down manufacturing; telling businesses, “You can’t do that!” when they tried adjusting their business models. And the same here- a Mother really did “Take a Village” to care for her kids- using the tools that freedom gives us, and once again the Government stepped in to make a hash of it all.

    1. You make a very important point – I think you hit the nail on the head here.

      Your characterization of the situation on the micro level is totally generalizable to the economy, health policy, education… all of human interaction. Such lack of awareness of [enough of] the picture by those busybodies in govt or society in general lead to deleterious interferences – bad outcomes. Examples of these litter the news – for example the many policies enforced by government.

      Unfortunately most news outlets twist the reporting of these events to justify the perverse consequences of said interference to suit their chosen ideologies and outcomes. You see, the problem with the model you describe is that it thrives on individual freedom and responsibility – something the people who want control cant allow en masse.

    2. It brings to mind the hypocrisy of statists who sneer at religious fundamentalists who teach intelligent design and creationism, instead of spontaneous bottom-up evolution, which really harms no one, since evolution has very little bearing on ordinary life for most people;
      And at the same time, sneer at spontaneous bottom-up free markets in favor of rigid central planning, which really does hurt literally everybody, including the ruling class who impose it, because it grinds economies to a halt, and then backwards.

    3. Governments are good at brute force and bean counting, and poor to awful at anything requiring nuance. They should, therefore, avoid issues that require delicacy, tact, or taste.

  4. She should also sue them for the cost of future therapy for ptsd and trust issues that these idiots,oops, Leo’s ,caused by be being anal retentive,narcissistic controlfreaks

    1. idk, it doesn’t sound like her children are so coddled that they’ll need therapy. This is just an object lesson in government being the enemy.

  5. What I find amazing is that taking a kid into custody without calling parents is so far over the line that you don’t get qualified immunity, but stealing a quarter of a million dollars is such a murky and uncharted action that qualified immunity attaches.

    Do you think it is possible that our court system is hopelessly incompetent?

    1. Or arbitrary?

      No wait.

      Both. It’s both, isn’t it?

    2. Do you think it is possible that our court system is hopelessly incompetent?

      It’s hard to make the parts fit together when you’re making it up on the fly.

  6. How does a “School Resource Officer’s” authority extend beyond school grounds? That’s what needs to be determined.

    1. Most places they are a regular cop, assigned to the school.

      Which makes me suspect that SRO is a dumping ground for the worst of the force. Lazy or incompetent or difficult to deal with people who cannot be fired… Dump them in an SRO position where nobody in the department has to deal with them.

      1. ^This^

        SRO’s are the ones who aren’t even intelligent or competent enough to be regular cops.

      2. That position used to be called “Vice Squad.”

      3. Its also a nice cushy position for someone close to retirement. Like the guy in Florida who cowered behind cover while kids were being killed.

      4. I’ve met a few SRO’s, and until recently was impressed by most of them. They were frustrated with not being able to make much of a difference on the streets, and thought that working with kids would have more effect. That said, recently, I’ve been less impressed by the last few I’ve met. They just wanted a cushier police job.

    2. It’s just a fancy name for a truant officer. A job that has been around for a century. Cops on beat checking that all children are at government school. Contrary to the mythology, the olden days were not better days.

      When I was a kid in school, they had to give us passes to be off school. Heck, the high school was even “open campus” at the time, because it was routine to be off campus. But one still needed a pass, and you had to show it to the truant officer on demand. I recall a truant officer harassing my friend who didn’t have his pass (but I did). Assholes. Cops being assholes since I was a kid.

      Not liberal urban hell, but nice conservative rural town.

      1. My very first personal interaction with cops was when I was about 10, walking with my brother to the local library about 10 minutes from home. Rural area, no sidewalks. Next to the library was a sheriff’s substation, which we understood to be unmanned, only used at end of shift, to get supplies, something of the sort.

        As we were walking past it to the library, a sheriff’s car pulled up. Being kids, my brother and I turned around, stuck our thumbs in our ears, waggled our fingers, and stuck out our tongues. This was around 1960. Biggest crime problems were high schoolers and kegs.

        Proper cop reaction would have been to repeat our actions back at us and have a good laugh. One of the deputies instead lectured us on how hard their job was, how they deserved respect, etc. Probably didn’t last over a minute, but I will remember for the rest of my life what a damned fool cops can be, and how even the nominal good cops, like the other deputy, won’t do anything to rein them in.

        1. I think the other deputy was the senior cop, and ordered his partner to give you a lecture, because you deserved it.

          Thinking cops are damned fools because of that reflects more on you than the cop.

          1. They were 10. Any cop who can’t take that from a 10 year old in good humor has no business wearing a badge.

        2. Huh. You are a lot older than I would have guessed.

    3. It’s plausible that an SRO should reasonably be given Truancy Officer responsibilities. Those would naturally extend beyond school grounds.

      But as Cyto says, most SROs shouldn’t be trusted with a gerbil, much less young humans in complex family situations. Not that there aren’t a few good SROs but there’s too much incentive to assign your weakest performers to that role. And far too little accountability at every point in the process.

    4. I did 4 years as an SRO at a large (2500) mostly minority high school. I like to think I was pretty decent at it, as a longtime libertarian and also having 20 years on the job at the time. But you are right, it is and remains a dumping ground for either the lazy, the troublemakers or the rookies. I did it because I wanted the gig, but I spent a lot of time explaining to teachers, administrators and counselors why I couldnt or wouldnt do what they wanted to most of the time, which was usually arresting the kid or their parents for some minor offense, or handling busybody neighbors that wanted to report “endangered children” in situations similar to this.
      To answer the question, I was a full time sworn police officer for the city, and I had full jurisdiction anywhere in the city and even outside of it, since some students lived in neighboring cities. When my SRO assignment was over i went right back to regular patrol.

  7. Also absent from the story… The douchebag prosecutor who brought the case to trial after speaking with the relevant parties.

    And the douchebag prosecutor’s bosses who allowed this and did not immediately fire the idiot.

    Plenty of scorn to go around.

    1. Prosecutors are quite often the worst elements within the entire criminal justice system. The election of local prosecutors only exacerbates the problem. May I suggest this article on that topic: https://www.thedailybeast.com/its-too-dangerous-to-elect-prosecutors

    2. Prosecutor is usually an elected office. I’ve seen prosecutor’s use common sense and then get hit over the head with it come election time. One of ours threw out several “domestic violence” cases because they were bullshit. A divorce lawyer advised his clients to file them to use them as leverage in the settlement. That same lawyer ran for the District Attorney’s Office and tried to use the dismissal of the cases against the current DA. This way “the Jury” dismissed the charges, not the Prosecutor or Judge. Safer that way, politically.

      1. County prosecutor is elected but all the deputy DAs that actually do all the work are simply govt workers.

    3. This is exactly what I was thinking. I’m an attorney in a very rural, law-and-order county in which people still get 5 days in jail for marijuana possession. I would bet everything I own that this case would have either never been filed or dismissed here. 4 days of trial, no less. Such garbage. I’m biased, but I’m more disappointed by the charging decision and the decision to try the case than by the stupid conduct of the SRO’s.

  8. By every measure of the law, she was probably breaking it on first blush. But that just goes to show how bad the law is. Some Top (wo)Man sees a family and on first blush thinks it’s easy to determine “appropriate care”. A parent, or maybe a grandparent is there to help. Other members of the community? No fucking way! That is too many variables.

    As I noted above, I view this through the same lens as any free market or free association interaction. They are messy and chaotic- but that doesn’t mean they are bad. The school councilor giving a ride to the son had an emergency come up, and so she- GASP- found someone else to cover for her. A Top Man ™ would look at that situation and say “OMFG! That kid almost missed a ride to school! We must add a computerized tracking database and lojack, integrated with google calendars and cell phones!” And after they were done it would be an inflexible bureaucratic nightmare.

    1. 14 is old enough to babysit other kids. It should be old enough to stay home alone.

    2. She wasn’t. There actually isn’t an age for leaving a child home alone in Texas, the law is written as old enough to be responsible. If the child is in a car they have to be 13.

  9. I feel like some recognition should be given to CPS for immediately noticing this is all bullshit but that’s really just my low expectations maybe. Finally, a story about CPS workers being sane?

    1. And yet the machine rolled on…..

      1. I mean… at least the poor woman didn’t have to deal with a fucking CPS case as well?

    2. Finally, a story about CPS workers being sane?

      Maybe the most man bites dog story ever.

  10. I am stunned that this article does not get more engagement. This checks all of the Libertarian red meat boxes… Yet it gets less engagement than a coach using an inappropriate-ish word a decade ago.

    Do we still libertarian here? Or is that a thing of the past?

    1. Meh. The targets of police abuse (Army Guard soldier and west Texas public school teacher) are not like the fashionable east coast Cosmotarians.

    2. > Do we still libertarian here? Or is that a thing of the past?

      The Reason comment section hasn’t been libertarian since Trump first ran for office. Nowadays it’s all about validating one’s populist-conservative priors. Trump good, vaccines bad, cops good, unless capital cops then bad, immigrants from down south bad because brown, immigrants from up north bad because socialist, build the wall, build the wall. Not libertarian, but contrarian. If anyone in the mainstream is for it, knee jerk against it.

        1. Brandyshit?
          Easy: A TDS-addled piece of shit, so adolescent in his supposed ‘maturity’ that he hated the best POTUS we had in a very long time since he wasn’t ‘daddylike’ enough for the asshole Brandyshit.
          Infantile assholes gonna infantile.

          1. Good point. He pretends to be mature and yet is adolescent. You don’t pretend, you are straight away an adolescent.

          2. You literally just led off with “Brandyshit”. I don’t know either of you but personally haven’t made up nicknames like this for anyone since…maybe middle school? So, uh, you were saying something about being infantile though, right? Do go on

            1. To be fair, that’s juvenile, not infantile.

      1. Your analysis is idiotic, as usual. It also does not reflect reality. I’ve come to the conclusion you’re a person who engages in largely soft headed thinking.

      2. Reason hasn’t been libertarian since Trump because left wing aholes don’t care about anything other than validating their Trump hatred and bring it into every thread even when he isn’t relevant.

      3. I think you left out “both sides”.

        We all used to be friends here, more or less. Now people are siding with (or against) principals, often while ignoring libertarian principles. Some will give Trump or his acolytes a free pass regardless of the transgression against liberty or small government. Others will refuse to admit that spending twice as much as Trump, or enacting federal mandates Trump declined to implement, are not obviously a bigger affront to freedom than what went before.

        Just remember, we agree on a lot more with each other than with just about everyone else out there.

        1. This. The shift has been more towards the day to day dirt of politics and away from discussion of essentially libertarian issues. Which I understand to some extent, I’ve become more concerned about what’s actually going on in the last several years and that does lead to compromising principle for practical considerations.

      4. > The Reason comment section hasn’t been libertarian since Trump first ran for office.

        Jesus Christ, dude. Give it a fucking rest. I didn’t vote for the son-of-a-bitch either time, but I at least acknowledge he was less awful than his successor or his predecessor (which isn’t saying much since the bar is so fucking low). There are plenty of us libertarians around in the comments section. Its the goddamn writing staff at Reason that has gone off the fucking deep end (looking specifically at you Soave: eat shit and do the world a favor and crawl under some rock and never come out)

      5. Read “Republican-National Socialist Comparison” at libertariantranslator and the tactics are a rerun. According to the Ladies’ Home Journal, Hitler was in 1933 pushed along by his followers. Trump started out slightly less appalling than the other looters, but his Trumperjugend bootlickers got him off on girl-bullying and shooting kids over plant leaves, so women voters did him like they did Hoover, Landon, Willkie and Dewey before Ike smuggled in with Tricky Nixon on his coattails. But we’re here for Lenore.

    3. It *might* not be getting that much engagement because it appears that in this rare case, the system might be kind of working. No one got qualified immunity.

      1. Agreed. The outcome (no QI) is correct. Skenazy let the story tell itself and didn’t qualify her opinion.

        Other than giving the author and the situation a thumbs up, there is not much reason to engage.

        1. we can always debate the future employment prospects of a girl named Jade from Midland, Texas lol.

    4. There’s not much to debate, everyone agrees the system and the cops are idiots.

    5. On the Facebook post where I first saw this article, in the few minutes since its posting, it has already elicited hundreds of comments and even more negative reactions.

      1. Negative how?

        Hopefully negative as in “how in the world were those officers dumb enough to take in the daughter in the first place.”

        1. Those cops should have been charged with kidnapping.

  11. >>and her husband was deployed overseas

    jeebus cripes mom bent over backwards to ensure she was safe, and her dad was off serving the country. abolish CPS.

    1. Nah, CPS actually did its job this time and found it was a gigantic nothing-burger. It was the fucking loony SRO assholes that did everything wrong.

  12. On Friday morning, the school counselor realized she wouldn’t be able to pick up Connor after all, and asked the school resource officer—

    *facepalm*

    More proof that school counselors are literally the most useless people on earth.

    1. This struck me as a problem also. These people needed you to care for their kids in truly rare circumstance and you aren’t even responsible enough to follow through on your commitment.

      People are shitty.

      Example 2:

      (Believe it or not, Weaver and McMurry had been friends before this.)

      She thought they were friends anyway. Obviously they weren’t.

      1. They were only friends so long as she and her family OBEY.

  13. It takes a village to be karen for the children.

  14. Fire everyone involved who did not seek to put an immediate stop to this.

    Do not limit the repercussions to the two low level dipshits. Every person in their chain of command, and every person in the judiciary who abetted, or even tolerated this MUST be shown the door.

    1. Judiciary? The prosecutor charged it. And as absurd of a charging decision as it was, it almost certainly would have/should have survived any sort of dispositive motion defense would have filed (and you clearly didn’t even look to see if one were even filed). Only a batshit Judge unconcerned with the law could have had any impact on this not going to trial. So, I guess that’s the type of judiciary you want. Until you get it good and hard. Prosecutor deserves the scorn here, not the judiciary.

      1. “Prosecutor deserves the scorn here, not the judiciary”

        Horseshit.

  15. It was her hard-won resilience that got her to adulthood, and resilience is exactly what she and her husband are trying to instill in their kids.

    Which is exactly why the State must take these kids away from these unfit parents. The last thing we want is strong, self reliant people. /sarc

  16. “ Now McMurry is suing the officers for violating her Fourth and 15th Amendment rights.”

    I am pretty sure that the “15th Amendment” statement is a typo. At least I hope it is a typo. The 15th Amendment prohibits abridgment of the right to vote based on race or previous condition of servitude.

    She obviously meant 14th Amendment.

  17. “…Weaver called Child Protective Services (CPS) to report children left home alone…”

    Hope this slimy piece of shit can be sued also.

  18. A federal judge has ruled that two cops who work at a public school in Midland, Texas, can be sued for seizing kidnapping a 14-year-old from her family’s apartment…

    FTFY

  19. Not allowing them to call parents. That should have been the first call if they thought there was an issue. A simple phone call would have told them to f— off.

    1. Yea, and what a bullshit response at trial. I didn’t want to alarm him. This person can’t be a parent or a rational human. It would alarm him to tell him his kids are just fine but there was a concern related to lack of adult supervision, but it wouldn’t concern him that his home-alone kid isn’t answering the phone.

      1. This is, perhaps, the most insightful comment of a number of good comments on here. I hadn’t even considered that until you pointed it out, but this is absolutely true, even if they did not realize the daughter had texted the father.

        I can’t believe how asinine the people involved in this were.

  20. My parents were like Lenore. They let me have the run of São Paulo at age 6, roaming miles in all directions until hunger drove me home. This was before prohibitionism exported by Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Biden made all of South America into as dangerous a territory as Chicago in 1932. Prohibition wrecks economies, causes gunfights, increases suicide and divorce rates, yet Texas Republicans want to ram that and girl-bullying down everyone’s throats.

  21. Oh, and the fact that this case went to trial doesn’t just tell you about the cops, it tells you something about the prosecutor.

    1. Fire the ppersecutors.

      Out of a sixteen-inch gun.

    2. Tells you a lot about the judge who was apparently unwilling to rein in an out of control prosecutor.

  22. I was a prosecutor in a semi-rural area in the Rocky Mountains for a number of years. While I was up there, the only child abuse/neglect cases that I saw involved causing visible physical injury to the child (usually a step-father going overboard with physical discipline, and sometimes a doctor or counselor filing a mandatory report based on injury).

    I then moved to the big city and went back to misdemeanor court. The police department that sent us most of our cases took a much more aggressive view of child abuse enforcement than did their moral rural brethren. Most of the child abuse cases that I saw were what we called “dirty house cases.” The cops would respond to the house for whatever reason, see kids there, see that the house was absolutely filthy, call CPS, and then scratch out a ticket for child abuse/endangerment (I don’t think I ever saw an arrest for one of these, thankfully). The other type of case I saw a lot of was the “toddler on the loose” case. Toddlers can be very crafty about sneaking out of the house. When found wandering, or just standing, in public without supervision, concerned citizens would obviously call 911. Usually by the time the police arrived mom or dad had appeared to collect their kid. Invariably the cops scratched out a ticket for child abuse/neglect. I remember one where mom took a nap and the kid snuck out.

    And then the dirty house and toddler on the loose cases would make their way to my desk, where they were met with befuddlement and disbelief. The way our courthouse worked is that they would come in on their court date and meet with me, almost always without a lawyer. For stuff like the kid sneaking out while mom was taking a nap I would just dismiss the case. For most of the rest, I told them I would dismiss the case after they took a $50 “parenting class.” But on one occasion a parent charged with a dirty house case (and this was like the king of dirty houses, with animal feces all around and even rats visible when the police were there) refused and took the case to trial. I tried several times to resolve the case with a class and a dismissal, but no dice. I then went to my bosses and asked to dismiss the case. They looked at it and found that there was sufficient evidence under the statute (I was forced to agree, it was a REALLY dirty house), and that the case would have to go to trial. None of us really wanted that result. I got promoted before the case went to trial, and I don’t know what happened.

    Anyway, for those of you wondering why the prosecutor took this case to trial, I wonder that too. But there are lots of facts not presented in this article, which is primarily based on a court ruling on summary judgment that has to accept all facts alleged by the plaintiff, and consider them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Whatever facts the defense might offer are not presented. So, there could have been more at play. We just don’t know from the article. Reading the court ruling, it is clear that these kids spent the night in the apartment without parental supervision, and the neighbors mentioned would check on them mid-evening. I don’t know at what age you can safely leave kids alone when you go out of town, but a mature 14 year old and a younger kid, with neighbors checking on them every day, neighbors who lived in the same apartment building, and phones and FaceTime with Dad in Kuwait, it seems to me that the cops should have just left this to CPS. I don’t fault them for calling CPS, but almost certainly they should have left it with them. At least where I worked they could, and would, make referrals for criminal prosecutions when appropriate.

    1. The denial of QI was a SJ issue, but the criminal proceeding was a jury trial not a SJ motion. It lasted 4 days. It gave the jury deliberation time. It quoted State’s witness testimony. I don’t think we lack factual information that makes the charging decision anything but ludicrous.

  23. FOURTEEN!? geez when I was 8 I was out riding my bike and exploring the woods by myself from dawn till dusk all alone. liberals need to back off…helicoptering is actually bad for kids

  24. Hard to believe officers could actually be this ignorant. They actually thought this would end well? Fire them!

  25. Never – repeat, NEVER – allow an agent of the state into your home without a search warrant when they show up unbidden. Advise them you will be happy to speak with them on the front porch or in the yard. If YOU or your children are the subject of the conversation, once you are speaking to them, tell them you have nothing to say at this point until you have consulted your attorney and have the attorney present with you for the conversation.

    CPS or whatever it’s called in your state will tell you they have the authority to enter your home without a warrant. Reply that if that’s true, they have legal justification to break the door you are refusing to open. If they return with police and a search warrant you will have to admit them, BUT you will have had time to tell your children that if they value the set-up they now have, they will tell the CPS/police NOTHING but their age, birthdate, and age – NOTHING – NOT A WORD!! Advise them they will be lied to and threatened but silence is golden and no response is to be given to ANY QUESTION. (Sadly, it is unlikely that a child under 11 or 12 will understand and be able to comply without being frightened into responding.)

  26. Parents who raise self reliant, responsible kids are punished. Parents who allow their children to determine there sex and receive medical procedures to further this are praised.

  27. The job of the police is to bring cases for the prosecutors to prosecute. This was indeed a case that the prosecutors took to trial. So how are the police at fault? They are just doing their jobs.

    The jury eventually acquitted, but how were the cops supposed to be able to predict that? The problem here is with the law, not the cops.

    1. It’s both. Both the prosecutors and cops are at fault here. Hopefully the cops will get punished via this lawsuit. It would be nice if the prosecutor also got disbarred for taking the case to court, especially after CPS found no wrong-doing. Most likely the cop (Weaver) had a vendetta against McMurry and the prosecutor was making a coldly calculated political decision (don’t want to look soft on child endangerment in the next election!). It’s really fortunate that the CPS officer was a sane and decent person because otherwise the official abuse would been amplified even more.

  28. I wondered about the officer’s state of mind, if it was an honest albeit stupid mistake. He asked “Were you going to have a party?” The idea that she might have been planning a party is inconsistent with the idea that she was a child. It makes me wonder if he wanted to party with her. Also if she were a lost child, you’d think the first thing they’d do is get her parents.

    I suppose it doesn’t matter, but it has a very creepy feel. It would be bad if he were thinking of her as helpless and not knowing how to handle something like a small accidental fire. But he was thinking about her partying.

  29. It sounds like McMurry was friends with Weaver, but Weaver had some deep-seated resentment of McMurry and saw this as a chance to punish McMurry for some perceived crime or slight. Maybe Weaver was upset that McMurry was homeschooling? Maybe Weaver was just jealous of the nice family life McMurry had? Maybe Weaver was upset about some other thing that McMurry did that McMurry wasn’t even aware of.

    Just goes to show that government officials are people and when you give people power some of them will abuse it.

  30. “Weaver called Child Protective Services (CPS) to report children left home alone. She also called her supervisor, Brunner, and the two went to the McMurry home for a welfare check on Jade.

    This is where things got ugly.”

    No, that’s wrong, let me fix that:

    This is where things got ugly.

    Weaver called Child Protective Services (CPS) to report children left home alone. She also called her supervisor, Brunner, and the two went to the McMurry home for a welfare check on Jade.

  31. The two “officers” not only deserve to be fired, they should do jail time. This was abusive behavior. It was not protocol nor a mistake. It was purposeful abuse.

  32. 14 to young to be home alone?!?

    I remember when my baby sitter was 14.

    My grandma was 14 when she married and ran the house and farm while my grandfather, 17, worked at a service station as a mechanic then came home after a full day for a few farm chores. Well, then more farm work when he wasn’t at the service station.

  33. I entered freshman year (9th grade) of high school at 13. My 14th year was a good deal of my Freshman year and some of my sophomore year. If I hadn’t been one of 9 kids, inviting several class mates over for an after-school hang would have been plausible. And, no, since both my parents worked, we had no adult supervision until after Mom got back or my Dad, the Coach, was done with whatever practice, game or meet he was at was over. I 4 older siblings, and one or another of my older sisters were charged with minding the younger kids and preparing dinner. They would have been ages 15-17 when I was 14, so no party! I nwas in elementary school in the 1960s. We walked a mile home from school everyday. I often took my bike to and from. I was halfway between Times Square and the Montauk lighthouse in a village on Long Island. Very Rockwellish small town, with the post-WWII Levittown-style development across the state highway a half mile from us. When I went to my first three years of high school in the 70s, the walk was shorter.

    Other parents would hire my sisters to watch their kids in the summer. Those Moms and Dads were getting experienced child-minders! {And decent cooks, too.}

    Anybody or their sibling ever take a course like this?

    American Red Cross babysitting and child care courses can help you provide quality care to children of all ages. Developed by experts in the industry, our online and in-person courses are available to those ages 11 and older, and include topics such as choosing age-appropriate activities, basic child care, like bottle feeding, child behavior, leadership, professionalism, safety, starting a babysitting business, and more.

    https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/babysitting-child-care

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