A Prince William County, Virginia, teen is headed to court after being charged in a dispute over a carton of milk, according to The Washington Post.
Ryan Turk, 14, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and petty larceny after being accused of stealing a 65-cent carton of milk and pushing a school resource officer. The incident occurred at Graham Park Middle School on May 10.
Turk said he forgot to get his milk the first time through the lunch line and just went back to grab it, the Post reports. He said as a recipient of free lunches at the school, he felt he was just doing what he did every day.
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Authorities told the Post that a school resource officer saw Turk take the milk and accused him of stealing it. When the student did not cooperate with a trip to see the principal, he was arrested and charged.
"No one needs to be punished for stealing a 65-cent carton of milk," Emmett Robinson, the family's attorney told the Post. "This officer treats kids like they’re criminals, and guess what happens — they’re going to become criminals."
Shamise Turk, Ryan’s mother, alleges Ryan was discriminated against and targeted because he is a black teenager who didn’t want to go with the officer, who she said was being unfair, according to the Post. The officer and principal involved are also black.
Phil Kavits, a Prince William County schools spokesman, said that he could not comment on the specifics of the incident but that it is not a race-related issue, noting "all the key parties involved, including the principal and the police officer, are African-American.”
"The staff members are well known in our highly diverse community for their dedication and caring approach to all students,” Kavits added.
The Washington Post generally does not identify minors charged with misdemeanor crimes, but Ryan Turk and his family opted to speak publicly to bring attention to the matter.