Race played role in sentencing of Black child, 10, for urinating in public, lawyer says

A 10-year-old Black child in Mississippi who urinated in public in August was sentenced Tuesday in youth court to three months’ probation, a decision the child’s attorney says was influenced by race.

Quantavious Eason, who is in the third grade, was arrested by Senatobia police Aug. 10 after a police officer saw him relieving himself outside next to his mom’s car when the woman was inside an attorney’s office, according to family attorney Carlos Moore.

Given the circumstances, any child would have done the same thing, Moore said. He noted there was no public restroom at the attorney’s office.

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10-year-old Quantavious Eason being arrested by Senatobia police in Mississippi on Aug. 10.Courtesy Latonya Eason

“He did what any reasonable person would do: He urinated next to the car behind the door — not exposing himself to anyone,” Moore said. “He would not have been arrested, prosecuted or sentenced if he was any other color, race, besides Black.”

Moore said he’s baffled that an arrest was made, that prosecutors then pursued the case, and that a youth judge this week oversaw a sentence that included probation and requiring Quantavious to write a two-page report about Kobe Bryant.

Quantavious was charged in youth court with being a child in need of supervision, Moore said. The child is required to check in with a probation officer once a month for three months, Moore said.

“We are not going to appeal. He will not have a criminal record, this is probation. And he is a fan of Kobe Bryant, so he doesn’t mind writing the two-page report,” Moore said. “But, still, the principle of it — he should not have to do anything. He should be enjoying his Christmas holiday like the other kids.”

The child’s mother, Latonya Eason, said Wednesday that she’s not sure if her son’s skin color influenced his arrest and the decisions made by prosecutors and a judge in youth court. However, she said, her son has been mistreated every step of the way.

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From left, attorney Carlos Moore, Quantavious Eason and Latonya Eason.Courtesy Latonya Eason

“My son is going through enough getting arrested, and then for him having to see a probation officer and then write an essay, I don’t think it’s right or it’s fair,” she said. “The average child would use the bathroom outside … and probably some grown men that would do the same thing.”

Officials with Senatobia police and the city could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The youth prosecutor and youth judge who oversaw the case were also not reached.

In an August statement posted on the police department’s Facebook page, Senatobia Police Chief Richard Chandler appeared to comment on the child’s arrest.

“Several of our officers were recently involved in an incident that involved a ten-year-old juvenile. The officer’s decisions violated our written policy and went against our prior training on how to deal with these situations,” the statement said.

Chandler added that one of the officers was no longer employed at the department, the other would be disciplined, and the department would have mandatory juvenile training “just as we do every year.”

Eason said on the day of her son’s arrest that while officers chose not to handcuff him, they put him in a jail cell. She recalled the responding officer being close to letting the child go with a warning after speaking with her.

Eason said that the officer told her she “handled it like a mom, just make sure it doesn’t happen again.” However, several more officers showed up, including a lieutenant, who ultimately made the decision that the child had to be arrested, she said.

The arrest has resulted in her son not trusting police officers and being scared of them, Eason said.

Moore said he plans to file a federal lawsuit next month against the city of Senatobia and the arresting officer. The lawsuit will claim that during the arrest, the child’s rights were violated under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Eason said justice in her eyes would mean that no other child will have to go through something similar.

“I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she said. “No matter the color or who you are, no child should have to go through that.”

Senatobia is about 40 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee.