Family files lawsuit over teen’s suicide after he was arrested and expelled for having vape pen at school

‘Jase told us he was handcuffed and shackled. I can only imagine as a kid that cared so much for others to know that – that happened to him, and people could see that,’ his mother said

Kelly Rissman
Thursday 28 September 2023 15:58 BST
Jase Emily
Jase Emily (WHAS11 / screengrab)

The family of an Indiana teen filed a tort claim against the school and sheriff’s office after he took his own life just days after he was arrested for having a vape pen at school.

Jase Emily, 15, was caught with a vape pen at Charlestown High School in May. The finding resulted in an arrest, temporary removal from the football team, and expulsion from school.

“Jase told us he was handcuffed and shackled. I can only imagine as a kid that cared so much for others to know that – that happened to him, and people could see that,” his mother, Elyce Emily, told WHAS11.

She continued, “Finding out he wasn’t going to be able to play the next year it was rough for him. And it didn’t hit us of what that might do to him until after he was gone.”

The 15-year-old’s vape pen tested positive for marijuana, arrest records show.

Three days after the incident, on 20 May, Jase took his own life. His family is now seeking justice.

Gordon Ingle, the family’s attorney, said the punishment was too harsh for such a crime.

“We don’t believe they had probable cause to check his locker. They did a criminal investigation and they talked to him, which is a violation of the law because before you can talk to a juvenile, you have to give that juvenile the chance to have meaningful consultation with someone, in this case a parent,” Mr Ingle told the outlet.

“This was just police overreach if there ever were any,” the attorney added.

The tort claim, obtained by the outlet, asserts that the teen was wrongfully arrested and detained. It also alleges that Jase’s constitutional rights were violated, and names the school district and Clark County Sheriff’s Office as responsible for damages.

“There’s no acknowledgement there that what they did was wrong,” the grieving mother said.

According to the Charlestown High School student handbook, drugs are strictly prohibited at school. It states that any student who “possesses, handles, transmits or is under the influence” of any drug, “on school property or at a school function, he or she will be suspended for no fewer than five days [out of school suspension], the student may be arrested and the process for expelling that student may begin.”

Ms Emily hopes the tort claim will hold the parties accountable and can potentially prevent other tragedies from happening: “We just don’t want any other family to have to go through what we did. We want Jase back but that’ll never happen.”

The Independent has reached out to the sheriff’s office and the school district.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to to find a helpline near you.

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