Story of judge forgiving 15-year-old boy for stealing in viral video is fake
Video in fact contains image of Christian Fernandez, who was brought before Florida court in 2011 on charges of beating younger brother to death
Claim: According to a video shared online, a Western judge decided to forgive a 15-year-old boy who was apprehended for stealing bread for his ailing mother. The video ends with a statement about how Pakistan’s judges are failing, while judges in the Western World are carrying out justice.
Fact: The claim made in the video is false. The boy seen in the video is Christian Fernandez, who was brought before a Jacksonville, Florida court in 2011 after being accused of beating his two-year-old brother to death. The judge seen in the video is American judge Frank Caprio, known for his kind and considered rulings in Providence, Rhode Island. Fernandez, who was 12 years old at the time of his arrest, has never come before Judge Frank Caprio. The images in the video appear to have been stitched together to convey a false narrative.
On 11 May 2022, a viral video was shared by Facebook page Update first, which has just over 881 followers.
The video features a series of images of a child standing handcuffed in a prison jumpsuit and a judge sitting at his bench. The video is accompanied by an Urdu voice over which narrates the case of a 15-year-old boy who was allegedly apprehended for stealing bread from a grocery store. According to the voiceover, the child confessed to stealing and explained that he stole the bread for his ailing mother. After listening to the boy, the voiceover continues, the judge announced that the people present in the courtroom will pay for the child’s crime with $10 contributions. The judge also decided to penalize the complainant [the shopkeeper] with a $1000 fine. The video concludes with a statement about how Pakistan’s Muslim judges are failing while judges in the Western World are carrying out justice.
The video’s thumbnail features the following Supreme Court judges from Pakistan [L to R]: Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Aijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel. This is the same five member bench which was constituted by the Chief Justice on the midnight of 9 April 2022 to discuss former Speaker of National Assembly Qasim Suri’s decision to disallow the vote on the no-confidence motion filed against former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The image of the five member bench is accompanied by the following text:
“Jis din kisi ghareeb ko insaaf faraham krne kay liye Supreme Court raat ko bara bajay khulay gi, us din is mulk ko kisi Imran Khan ki zaroorat nahin rahay gi”
[Translation: “The day when the Supreme Court opens up at midnight to deliver justice to a poor man is the day when this country will stop needing Imran Khan”]
The video also features an image of current PM Shehbaz Sharif’s face with a red cross imposed on it and the text “You are not my prime minister #Let’s spread”.
It therefore appears that the video is intended as a targeted critique of the justices who allowed the no-confidence motion against Khan to go forward, and of the new government.
Fact or Fiction?
Soch Fact Check conducted a Reverse Image Search using key frames from the video and confirmed that the judge whose face appears in the video is Frank Caprio, the Chief Municipal Judge in Providence, Rhode Island, the United States of America. We were also able to confirm that the child seen in the prison jumpsuit is Cristian Fernandez, who was brought before a Jacksonville, Florida court in 2011 after being accused of beating his two-year-old brother to death. Fernandez was 12 years old at the time. In February 2013, he pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and aggravated battery, and received juvenile sanctions as a result.
Soch Fact Check can therefore confirm that the story conveyed in the video of a judge forgiving a 15-year-old boy for stealing bread is fabricated using images of Judge Frank Caprio and Christian Hernandez.
This is not the first time the image of Hernandez in a prison jumpsuit has been shared with a false claim. The image spread across Indian social media in October 2020, with the claim that it depicts a 15-year-old boy who was caught stealing bread and cheese. The claim was debunked at the time in this video fact check by Factly, an independent IFCN-certified fact checker based in India.
According to a CrowdTangle analysis, at the time of publishing, posts sharing the video had garnered over 151,000 reactions, 2,900 comments and 3.1 million views on Facebook. According to our CrowdTangle analysis, the post by Update First reached 9,813,595 people on Facebook and was posted 139 times.
The video first appears to have been shared in Update First’s post on 11 May 2022. At the time of publishing, that post had been seen 2.9 million times and received 2,800 comments and 147,000 interactions.
The video was further shared and widely discussed in the following public groups:
ARY News Live 130,981 members
Samaa News Live 30,822 members
pakistan cricket 87,400 members
Hiba bukhari 324,200 members
Allama Syed Shahenshah Hussain Naqvi 98,900 members
Sheikh Rasheed 159,200 members
Conclusion: The story told in the viral video of a Western judge forgiving a 15-year-old boy for stealing bread for his ailing mother is fabricated. The image of the boy in the prison jumpsuit which appears in the video is in fact of Christian Fernandez, who was brought before a Florida Court in 2011 after being accused of beating his two-year-old brother to death. The judge seen in the video is American judge Frank Caprio, of reality TV show Caught in Providence fame. Fernandez never came before Judge Caprio.