State Attorney drops pepper spray charges against 14-year-old girl

Reporter: Taylor Petras

Jayden Bonitatis, 9 years old, ended her school dance on a stretcher. She and nine other students went to the hospital. It was a chaotic night as a result of pepper spray released into the air.

The State Attorney’s Office dropped the charges against the 14-year-old girl accused of doing it. The girl’s father said his daughter is innocent and that she would not do anything like that with her younger siblings also at the dance that night.

An elementary school dance interrupted, becoming a night Bonitatis and her grandfather, Robert Craig, will never forget.

“I was like wait, what’s going on,” Bonitatis said, “because I didn’t know what was going on until they said it was pepper spray.”

“It was malicious,” Craig said.

Deputies thought they found the person responsible: Clifford Green’s 14-year-old daughter.

“It doesn’t make sense why my kid would do that with all of her younger siblings there,” Green said.

An arrest report said security cameras show Green’s daughter raising her arm and spraying something from a canister. Green said he had seen the video.

“It doesn’t show her committing any kind of crime,” Green said, “other than standing there, enjoying herself.”

Deputies said it was pepper spray that sent dozens to the hospital that February night.

“What they are accusing her of is wrong,” Green said. “They said she had a can of pepper spray, which in the photos it shows her with a red Coca Cola can in her hands.”

The State Attorney’s Office has now dismissed the possession of a weapon on school property charge, leaving concerned grandparents like Craig disappointed.

“I feel That there should have been some kind of punishment,” Craig said.

The attorney’s office said it could not provide any more information because it is a juvenile case. The School District of Lee County said its investigation is finished while the Sheriff’s Office told WINK News it closed the case, too.

Green’s advice is to keep pushing for answers.

“I would say to each parent, to reach out to the school, to the school district, to LCSO,” Green said, “and have them further investigate what happened.”

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