An 18-year-old Ohio high school student and EMT-in-training at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus spent 13 days in jail and has been charged with a felony after police found a pocketknife in his car.
Jordan Wiser is an aspiring public servant, training to become an EMT and planning to be a firefighter, so when school officials found his series of YouTube videos in which he discusses self-defense and law enforcement, it shouldn't have been a big deal.
The school alerted police with concerns that he might carry weapons with him to school.
Police searched Wiser’s vehicle and discovered a stun gun, airsoft guns, and a pocketknife. The pocketknife was what got Wiser arrested, charged with a felony, and landed him in jail for 13 days.
“I didn’t think anything of the Airsoft guns,” said Wiser. “Our school is a technical school, and I was planning on meeting with my Airsoft team after school. My stun gun was locked in the glove box, and the knife was in my EMT medical vest. I bought it at K-Mart and have it as part of my first responder kit for cutting seatbelts.”
The school says their zero tolerance policy against weapons on school grounds prohibits anything, including a pocketknife, from being on the property. Since the discovery and subsequent consequences, the promising young student is facing the fact that his whole life may be ruined because of this one incident.
"If I am convicted of a felony, I'm never going to be a police officer," said Wiser to The Huffington Post. "I'm never going to be a fireman. I'm never going to be in the military. I won't even be able to be a janitor. I'm 18 years old, and this is going to ruin my entire life.”
"There are kids at my school all the time who get caught with knives and are suspended," he continued. "My school is very rural, and people carry knives. I can accept the fact that there was a lapse in judgment, and I can accept a punishment, but I have already been expelled from both the tech school and my home school. The Army — I was enrolled in the Future Soldiers program and was scheduled to ship out in August — has discharged me, pending a not guilty verdict or dropped charges without prejudice."
Ashtabula County assistant prosecutor Harold Specht says that they did what they had to do in this situation but maintains that if the case goes to trial, he doesn’t think it will wind up being as bad as it seems.
“We charge [people] with everything that we feel they are guilty of, and in this case, he is guilty of a felony,” said Specht in a statement. “I know that there's a load of people out here that just think we're the devil because we're allegedly ruining this young kid's life, and that's not the case at all. If this goes to trial, it will certainly come out in the wash."
Wiser says that it’s already affected his life negatively. A judge decided not to allow him contact with his grandparents, and currently, his grandfather is dying.
"The one judge I went in front of told me to remove any firearms from my parents' house and put them at my grandpa's house," Wiser said. "The next judge freaked out about me even knowing what a gun is and put a no-contact order against me and my grandparents. My grandfather is dying right now, and I am not allowed within 500 feet of him."
"Never in my life did I think this would happen," said Wiser. "I dedicated my life to public service, and now a four-inch pocketknife could ruin everything."
A trial is tentatively scheduled to begin on June 11, with a pretrial hearing set for April 1.