PORT CHARLOTTE — Prosecutors have dropped charges filed against a former Port Charlotte High School student related to a picture he allegedly drew.
Eric Eastman, 18, had been arrested on allegations of making a written threat to kill or do bodily harm in April.
Deputies arrested Eastman April 24 after an image he drew — which allegedly depicted violence against a teacher at the school — surfaced on a PCHS Instagram account. It is not clear who operates the account, or how the image found its way there.
The charges were officially dropped June 28, and the case was closed July 1.
Eastman’s lawyer, Russell Kirshy, said the problem with the case in the first place was that his client’s intention was to make a joke.
“It was a bad joke, it was a joke in poor taste, but his intention wasn’t to threaten anybody,” Kirshy said. “Once we were able to discuss that with the prosecutor, show no one believed he had malicious intent, I think everyone took a deep breath and said ‘this is not appropriate use of resources to prosecute someone who was making a bad joke,’” he said.
Eastman could not immediately be reached Tuesday for comment.
The image seemed to depict a gamer with a gun in his hand pointed at a teacher’s head with a statement that said “Sorry [teacher’s name], the gaming community will not let you oppress another minority,” an arrest report read.
According to the arrest report, Eastman said he used this particular teacher as a character in his drawings, because “he likes him as a teacher and knows he would never do anything to hurt other people.”
Eastman allegedly told officials during questioning that he took a picture of the drawing and sent it to a friend. He then erased the original picture, because he did not want them to be misinterpreted.
Eastman was released from the Charlotte County Jail April 25 by his own recognizance.
Spokesperson for the Charlotte County School District Mike Riley said: “We are proud of the student who saw the drawing, did the right thing and took the proper action, by photographing it and immediately turning it over to the classroom teacher.”
He added that in turn the teacher notified administration right away and, along with the school resource officer, contacted deputies.
“We will continue to be vigilant in regards to keeping our students and staff safe,” Riley said.
Kirshy said Eastman’s case would qualify to be expunged from his record, though they have not discussed that yet.
“He’s doing well, he finished school, he’s keeping himself out of trouble and doing really well,” Kirshy said.