Jerk Cop Punishes Disabled Children By Shackling Them At School (VIDEO)

A federal lawsuit has been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Children’s Law Center, and Dinsmore & Shohl on behalf of two children and their families for the abhorrent treatment they received by a school resource officer.

The children, known in the lawsuit as S.R., an 8-year-old boy and L.G. a 9-year-old girl, both have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other special needs. Kenton County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner, who is a school resource officer for several public elementary schools in Covington, KY, decided that an appropriate punishment for the two children would be to handcuff their arms behind their backs. Because the children were so small, both weighing less than 60 pounds, the handcuffs were placed around the children’s upper arms, in three separate incidents that lasted, in one case, 30 minutes.

The complaint alleges that Sumner handcuffed S.R. on one occasion and L.G. on two occasions. All three of the incidents occurred in the fall of 2014. Neither of the children were arrested, and nor did they face any criminal charges.

Because, they’re KIDS!

Also included in the lawsuit is the Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn. The ACLU cites a failure to adequately train and supervise Sumner and based on the school resource officer’s treatment of these children, the Sheriff’s Office violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

S.R. is a 52 pound, 8-year-old boy

The lawsuit says S.R. was diagnosed with ADHD in May of 2012. Because of ADHD, S.R. “experiences difficulty staying focused, paying attention, controlling behavior, complying with directives, and remaining seated, and is substantially limited in one or more major life activites, including learning and neurological/brain functions.” In October 2013, the school added a behavior intervention plan, which is very common for children with these types of disabilities, which helps students and teachers manage behaviors related to the child’s disability.

In August of 2014, S.R. was diagnosed with PTSD and the suit says the child, “experiences distress associated with traumatic experiences.”

On November 13, 2014, S.R. unfortunately experienced something very traumatic. It says the boy was experiencing “disability-related difficulties complying with directives from his teacher and the Vice Principal.” He was sent to the Vice Principal’s office. While there, the child tried to leave the room but the door was held closed by personnel. He was then restrained by the Vice Principal and a teacher, twice, for approximately five minutes each time.

It is reported that S.R. attempted to leave the office again, this time saying he needed to use the restroom. At that point the school called his mother, who was able to calm her child. She then requested that the adults in the room allow her son to use the restroom – they agreed to allow it. (So kind of them.)

When S.R. returned to the room, he did not follow Deputy Sumner’s directions to sit down. In an “Investigation Report” that was written months after the incident, Sumner says S.R. “swung his arm and attempted to strike [him] with his elbow.” It was that action which prompted the grown man to handcuff the 52 pound 8-year-old above his elbows for 15 minutes.

On the video, Sumner says:

“You can do what we ask you to or you can suffer the consequences.”

You can also hear S.R. crying out saying, “Oh, God. Ow, that hurts.”

The child’s mother arrived at the school and took her son home. As they were leaving, Sumner told the child that he would return to the school with his handcuffs if he continued to misbehave.

L.G. is a 56 pound, 9-year-old girl

Plaintiff L.G., who is a 56 pound, 9-year-old girl, was diagnosed with ADHD in November 2012. It is stated in the lawsuit that because of her ADHD, she “experiences hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty paying attention, complying with directives, controlling emotions, and remaining seated.” It also points out that she has more difficulty during times of transition at school, which is not uncommon for children with ADHD.

Like S.R. and many kids with similar diagnosis, a 504 educational plan and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) was created in October 2013 that included behavioral strategies.

In a similar situation to S.R., in August of 2014, L.G. was having an emotional outburst, “screaming and disrupting the classroom.” Deputy Sumner placed the child in the back of his police cruiser and drove her home, where they waited in his car for more than an hour for her mother to arrive home.

During another incident, in October 2014, L.G. was first placed in the in-school suspension room for not doing what her teacher told her to do. The situation escalated and she was then placed in the school’s isolation room. She attempted to leave and was restrained by the Principal and Vice Principal. Deputy Sumner was called to the school. Upon arrival, he then handcuffed L.G. in the same manner seen on the video.

Three weeks later, L.G. was confronted by Deputy Sumner to go into the cafeteria. She ran away from him and he followed her. The principal then restrained the girl and she struggled. After ten minutes, the deputy handcuffed the girl, placing the handcuffs above her elbows. She was then left in a kneeling position on the floor for a half an hour while they waited for her mother to arrive.

When the mother arrived she witnessed her child in handcuffs, crying and screaming. Deputy Sumner was holding her daughter’s handcuffed hands over her head in a “hyperextension” position. It is said in the lawsuit that “this position is a pain compliance technique that is dangerous for children.”

What happened in both of these incidents should have never happened. This is not how to manage children with special needs. Ever. Furthermore, the school’s use law enforcement to discipline these children is startling.

WKYT reports that Susan Mizner, disability counsel for the ACLU stated:

“Shackling children is not okay. It is traumatizing, and in this case it is also illegal. Using law enforcement to discipline students with disabilities only serves to traumatize children. It makes behavioral issues worse and interferes with the school’s role in developing appropriate educational and behavioral plans for them.”

In the lawsuit, the ACLU calls attention to the fact that while students with disabilities only make up 12 percent of the students in schools, 75 percent of all students who are physically restrained at school are those with disabilities.

However, disabled or not, use of restraints in this manner is an illegal act. There was no threat or danger of physical harm to the adults in that room. The handcuffs were being used as a punitive punishment for behaviors that are associated with the documented disabilities with which both children were diagnosed.

You can read in detail the lawsuit filed on behalf of these children.

Managing children with special needs is an extremely challenging task. As the mother of a child diagnosed with Autism and ADHD, I realize the challenges experienced when impulse control is non-existent. I know, very well, the tantrums and outbursts these children are capable of – I’ve had to manage them in my home.

Never, ever, is the response by this cop the appropriate means to handle these children. What took place at this school was inexcusable. The ACLU states:

Law enforcement in schools must be trained on how to work with children with disabilities and trauma. Learning de-escalation skills should be as common as fire drills for schools and any law enforcement officers who serve them.

It seems as though that should be a given, yet it is clear that Deputy Sumner certainly didn’t have any such training. He was obviously overwhelmed by the fear of bodily harm threatened by a couple of elementary school kids, neither weighing as much as 60 pounds. Sad.

To read the actual filed complaint, click here.

You can watch the video released by the ACLU here:

*Warning: Graphic content

Featured image via video screen capture