Former Naperville high school student found not guilty of AirPods theft, files civil rights lawsuit

Thursday, May 23, 2024
Former student sues Naperville after found not guilty of AirPods theft
Amara Harris has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Naperville after being found not guilty of a 2019 AirPods theft at a high school.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Naperville after winning a legal fight over what she claims was malicious prosecution that began when she was in high school.

Amara Harris' battle dates back to 2019, when she was accused of stealing a classmate's AirPods.

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Harris endured more than 50 court appearances over the last four years before eventually proving her innocence.

She graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta on Sunday, after finally winning a case that dated back to her junior year at Naperville North High School.

Harris was ticketed by a school resource officer for allegedly stealing AirPods that belonged to someone else. Late last summer, a jury found her not guilty.

"It was horrible experience," her mother, Myla Baker, said. "The emotional turmoil we went through trying to encourage her."

Harris says she mistakenly thought the AirPods were hers and immediately returned them to the dean.

"They had no evidence she had stolen these AirPods," said Cameron Barnes with Rainbow PUSH Coalition. "For this to have gone this far over some AirPods is extremely troubling to me."

Harris' attorneys said the school resource officer insisted on giving her a ticket. Harris said she refused to simply pay the $100 fine because she was innocent.

"It was a mistake. She owned AirPods that looked just like the ones she picked up," attorney Juan Thomas said. "She thought they were hers."

The city of Naperville issued a statement defending going to court, saying in part, "The fact that the jury acquitted Ms. Harris does not negate the factual basis for the actions of the City and its officers."

"This is the courage of a young woman who said, 'I will not pay a fine because I did nothing wrong,'" attorney Sheridan Yeary said.

Attorneys for Harris filed the federal lawsuit against the city and two officers Tuesday night, alleging civil rights violations and discrimination, among other counts.

"Policy needs to change, not just for Amara, but for everyone." Baker said.

The officers have not yet been charged with a crime. In a statement, the city says the officers acted with integrity and will vigorously defend themselves in court.