A child with special needs was arrested at his school in 2018 but newly released video footage shows the police using tactics that probably shouldn’t be used for someone his age and with his disability.
The lawyer for the mother of the 8 -year-old boy who Key West police officers handcuffed in 2018 at his school after he was accused of punching a substitute teacher filed a lawsuit recently.
Unbelievable!! @KWPOLICE used “scared straight” tactics on 8yo boy with special needs. He's 3.5 ft tall and 64 lbs, but they thought it was appropriate to handcuff and transport him to an adult prison for processing!! He was so small the cuffs fell off his wrists! pic.twitter.com/iSTlXdKas6
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 10, 2020
Police officers at a Florida elementary school arrested an 8-year-old boy who had allegedly hit a teacher — only to realize the boy's wrists were too small for the handcuffs https://t.co/ZKfmLzf6ms
— CNN (@CNN) August 12, 2020
The mother of a boy who was arrested at his elementary school is now filing a civil lawsuit. https://t.co/E2Rrcl07WF
— Apple Valley News Now (@KAPPKVEW) August 13, 2020
Fox35 had this to say about the incident:
KEY WEST, Fla. – Newly-released body camera video from the Key West Police Department shows an 8-year-old boy being taken into custody after allegedly punching a teacher in the chest. The boy’s family has since announced they will seek legal action.
According to WSVN, the incident took place on December 14, 2018. Officers were seen searching the boy before trying to place handcuffs on him. At one point, one officer is heard saying the handcuffs were too big for the child, who was 3’5 tall and weighed 65 pounds at the time.
“Do you know where you’re going? You’re going to jail,” one of the officers is heard saying in the video.
Since the handcuffs were too big, the officers walked the boy outside.
“This is very serious, OK? I hate that you put me in this position that I have to do this,” the officer is heard saying. “The thing about it is, you made a mistake, and now it’s time to learn from it and grow from it, right? Not repeat the same mistake again, OK?”
The boy was booked with a felony battery charge.
The teacher involved was reportedly scolding the boy for not sitting properly during lunch. The incident and video went viral Monday after Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney, shared the video on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Crump said the boy is a special needs student and didn’t pose a threat to anyone, WSVN reports. He said he was placed with a substitute teacher who “had no awareness or concern about his needs and who escalated the situation by using her hands to forcibly move him.”
Crump is representing the boy’s mother and plans to file a lawsuit against the Key West Police Department and Monroe County School District.
The Key West police chief recently defended his officers, insisting they did not do anything wrong and followed standard operating procedures.
The school district declined to comment, citing the possible pending legal action.
Yahoo News reported this about the 8-year-old being arrested in school:
Video released on August 10 shows police officers in Key West, Florida, detaining and attempting to handcuff an 8-year-old boy whose hands were too small for the restraints after an incident at his elementary school on December 14, 2018.
Police body-cam video released by Ben Crump Law, the attorney representing the boy and his family, on August 10 shows officers telling the boy he’s going to jail, patting him down, and attempting to handcuff him before taking him out to a patrol car.
News reports said the boy hit a teacher after she reprimanded him for not sitting quietly in the lunchroom and forcibly moved him to a different seat. The boy was charged with felony battery, his attorney said.
“At eight years old, three and a half feet tall, and 64 lbs., this little boy didn’t pose a threat to anyone. He had an IEP [Individualized Education Program] in place because his disabilities demanded special support by his school — a plan intended to make sure his educational experience was appropriate for him. Instead of honoring and fulfilling that plan, the school placed him with a substitute teacher who had no awareness or concern about his needs and who escalated the situation by using her hands to forcibly move him. When he acted out, the teacher called the police, who threatened him with jail and tried to put him in handcuffs, which fell off because he was too little. This is a heartbreaking example of how our educational and policing systems train children to be criminals by treating them like criminals – if convicted, the child in this case would have been a convicted felon at eight years old. This little boy was failed by everyone who played a part in this horrific incident,” Crump said in a statement.
Whatever happened to the days where you went to the principal office, it seems like nowadays police are called to schools more often.
I know the police were following protocol but sometimes the best protocol is to use compassion and that’s all this eight-year-old needed.