DUMFRIES, VA (WUSA9) - A Prince William County teen is facing trial for "stealing" what should have been a free carton of milk from the lunch line at his school.
Police insist there’s more to the story. They say it started with Ryan Turk, 14, taking a carton of milk. But they insist it only escalated to criminal charges because he pushed the school resource officer and tried to get away.
“(The officer) shouldn't have put his hands on him,” responds Ryan’s mom, Shamise, a special ed teacher for Prince William County Schools. “And he should have pulled him to the side and asked him what happened. Instead of accusing him of stealing something he's entitled to.”
It's hard to explain how a dispute over a serving of milk that would have cost 65 cents if he’d had to pay for it became a criminal case.
“I just want it to be over with,” said Ryan.
In May, at Graham Park Middle School in Dumfries, Ryan says he forgot to grab his milk the first time he went through the line. So he went back, and got a carton -- and was confronted by a Prince William County School resource police officer.
Ryan's voice gets soft when he's asked about it.
“He says you pushed him and you tried to escape?," WUSA9's Bruce Leshan said to him. “That's not true. That's false information," said Ryan.
Police say he resisted going to the principal, and because of his behavior, the officer charged him with disorderly conduct and petit larceny -- over milk he was entitled to in his government subsidized lunch.
His mom declined to enroll him in a diversion program. So the case is going to trial.
“The diversion program is admitting to the crime he's been charged with,” said Shamise Turk. “So why put him through that?” she said.
Ryan was also suspended. "And spent nearly a month out of school,” said his mother. He's back now, a freshman in high school. But still facing that trial in juvenile court in November.
A Prince William County Schools spokesman says this dispute is not about race. He says the officer and the principal at the middle school were both African American. But a lawyer for the family said the officer, "treats kids like they're criminals. And guess what happens, they become criminals."