Florida police in Key West are accused of using “scared straight” tactics after they arrested an 8-year-old boy at his school.
According to TMZ, the young boy was accused of punching a teacher in the chest in December 2018, at Gerald Adams Elementary in Key West. The video emerged online Monday by attorney Ben Crump, as part of an upcoming civil case against the Key West Police Department.
Following the release of the video, Key West Police Chief Sean T. Brandenburg said that his police officers “did not do anything wrong,” according to the Miami Herald.
“Based on the report, standard operating procedures were followed,” he said, adding that only a portion of the video was released.
“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!” Crump tweeted.
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
In a press release sent to CrimeOnline, Crump confirmed that he’s been retained the represent the child’s family in the upcoming civil suit.
“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 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.”
According to the police report, obtained by TMZ, the young boy allegedly cursed at his teacher and said, “my mom is going to beat your a**.” He then allegedly punched her. The teacher said the incident was sparked when the boy wouldn’t sit properly on a bench in the cafeteria after being asked several times.
The teacher did not sustain any injuries, according to the report.
The boy was told to keep his hands behind his back after an officer unsuccessfully tried to handcuff him with cuffs too large for a small child. The responding officer then lectured the child on his behavior.
“You understand this is very serious, OK? I hate that you had to put me into this position to do this. The thing about it is, you made a mistake. Now it’s time for you to learn about it and to grow from it, not repeat the same mistake again.”
The child, sobbing in the video, was led to a police cruiser and taken away.
One of the responding officers, Michael Malgrat, wrote in a report that when he arrived at the school the child “had his hands clenched in fists and he was [posturing] as if he was ready to fight.”
The boy was arrested on a felony battery charge and taken to a juvenile facility in Key West. The status of the case is currently unknown.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Key West PD, screenshot]