Family of 10-year-old charged with mass shooting threat requests DOJ investigation into LCSO

Published: July 19, 2022 5:09 PM EDT
Updated: July 19, 2022 5:18 PM EDT

The family of the 10-year-old charged with threatening a mass shooting at school wants the Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigated for how it has handled the boy’s case.

The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, also known as FAIR, filed an official request to the United States Department of Justice to investigate LCSO for law enforcement misconduct on Daniel Marquez’ behalf.

WINK News investigative reporter Celine McArthur digs into the request.

“By its very name, the Department of Justice stands for justice. And usually, that means helping ordinary people, especially children, when they are abused by the powerful. Daniel’s case is very compelling,” said Letitia Kim, legal director for the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism.

Kim sent the four-page request for the Department of Justice to investigate what she and the family say was the “wrongful arrest and mistreatment of a child” by LCSO.

Daniel Marquez, 10, being escorted by a deputy in a video posted to the LCSO Facebook page on the day of his arrest.

“Look at everything that happened, and to keep in mind, the entire time, that this is a 10-year-old child,” Kim said, adding, “Look at it against the backdrop of Sheriff Marceno’s conduct and his contempt that he has shown for the rights of those who are under his power.”

Among Kim’s arguments is the creation and distribution of this TikTok video, posted to “Lee Sheriff Carmine Marceno,” 12 days after Daniel’s arrest. We told you how it’s edited to the AC/DC song, “Shoot to Thrill.”

Kim cites another problem. She said the way LCSO edited Daniel’s texts, makes it look like Daniel said “get ready for water day” twice, with the Google image of the guns in between.
Guns, “get ready for water day,” and more guns.

“Daniel never did that, and it’s shocking, frankly, that law enforcement would manufacture evidence against a 10-year-old child and circulate it,” Kim said.

A screenshot of alleged messages from Daniel Marquez shown in an LCSO social media video is being shown to Sheriff Carmine Marceno.

We asked Marceno about it during WINK News’ June one-on-one interview:

MCARTHUR: “It looks like he sent a picture, “get ready for water day,” another picture, “get ready for water day,” and that…

MARCENO: “Well, it may be double. It may be double, maybe because of the graphic the way came out, but that’s the graphic right there.” (pointing to a graphic on a screen behind him)

MCARTHUR: “Because this one got… You get an enormous number of followers and views on TikTok. So, this one looks very different guns get ready for water day GUNS…

MARCENO: “This is the actual one, which is guns, ‘get ready for water day.’ So, it might be double in this image. Because it was edited.”

In the letter to DOJ, Kim accuses Marceno of “fabricating and manipulating evidence” in a quote, “cynical attempt to frame a 10-year-old in the eyes of the public.”

“I find it very suspicious, to say the least, that he would claim that was just an inadvertent and harmless error that’s been circulated to his more than 350,000 TikTok viewers,” Kim said.

In the letter, Kim states: “Sheriff Marceno has a pattern and history of contempt for the rights of those under his power.” She references the names Marceno calls suspects, like “oxygen-stealer,” and how he says things like, “duct-tape them, shoot them dead,” all while posting “video of himself in military-style tactical gear.”

Sheriff Carmine Marceno in a video on “Lee County’s Sheriff’s Office” TikTok account. (Credit: LCSO)

Marceno has repeatedly defended his actions as being tough on crime. He said Daniel’s texts were enough to arrest him, according to Florida Law. Kim explains why she disagrees.

“How this statute has been construed by the courts, the word ‘threat’ means something that is direct and unambiguous. Historically, this statute has been used in the cases of clear, direct, unambiguous threats, such as, you know, get ready have your school shot up, you know, I’m preparing for a mass shooting,” Kim said.

As for a potential DOJ investigation, according to the DOJ’s website, the Department defines law enforcement misconduct as: “It’s a crime for someone acting under color of law to willfully deprive a person or a right or privilege. It adds, “Defendants act under color of law when they wield power vested by a government entity.” Those prosecuted typically include police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and prison guards, as well as public officials.

An excerpt from the complaint filed with the DOJ as a request to investigate the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

We asked civil rights attorney Alan Dershowitz to weigh in on the request.

“There’s no doubt that the sheriff comes within the statutory definition, under color of law. What he did was under color of law. What he did exceeded his authority as sheriff,” Dershowitz said. He adds, “I don’t know whether or not one can say it rises to the level of crime, but it seems likely it rises to the level of civil liability, and it certainly is morally and ethically wrong.”

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment.

The Marquez family will be back in court on August third.

You can see more of Celine’s coverage on this case here: