Andrew Cain, a 19-year-old from Idaho, took his own life this week — after local police mocked him on their Facebook page.
While Andrew Cain’s situation was not uncommon (police are increasingly using social media to shame suspects), the suicide aspect is a new one — and the teen’s family member say that while they don’t blame the Sheriff, Cain was despondent over “cyberbullying” before he died.
Normally when police are involved with cyberbullying, they themselves are not the accused perps, but after Cain’s death, the cops are in a strange spot. The rise of social media has enabled perp-shaming with Twitter and Facebook, but innocent parties can be tarnished and suffer unduly, which Cain’s sister Alise Smith said was in part the case.
Alise doesn’t blame the cops for Andrew’s death, but she admits that it wasn’t only the police harassing her brother after the mocking Facebook post from the Latah County Police’s now-deleted page.
Cain was wanted for “a few crimes,” the only one cited being marijuana related. And on their page, cops in Latah County, Idaho wrote:
We have decided that Andrew Cain is no longer the Wanted Person of the Week… he is the Wanted Person for the Month of June. Congratulations!
Interestingly, stories from both sides cite the same issues with Facebook’s role — Alise says:
“Eventually, it all just got too much to handle because other people were texting him and messaging him on Facebook and he just couldn’t handle all of the people telling him awful of a person he was.”
Latah County Sheriff Wayne Rausch confirmed today that the whole page had been deleted, and he adds:
“I’m not using it anymore, obviously, with close to 3,000 hits and nothing but hate and filth and profanity coming at me… What good are they? All these emails coming to me saying I should resign and how bad I am.”
(So it seems one conclusion is that no matter who you are or what you may have done, people are going to be mean to you on Facebook.)
Sister Alise adds:
It all exploded into people sharing it and rumors starting about other things that Andrew had done, crimes that he has never committed… And people started harassing him.
She recalls a text from her brother hinting at suicide, along with a screenshot of a private Facebook conversation between Sergeant Doug Andersen and Cain, “basically teasing him.”
Cain’s sister went to far as to defend the Sheriff, saying:
“Wayne Rausch didn’t post this… Wayne Rausch knows better than to post this, it is him employee. It is Sergeant Andersen who needs to apologize for his actions he needs to realize what he did, he needs to apologize to my family personally.”
Andrew Cain’s sister Alise says that while she doesn’t blame the Latah County Sheriff’s Office for her brother’s suicide, she is worried the same fate will befall another Facebook police page suspect down the line.