ACLU suit says Kentucky school officer shackled disabled children

Reuters News
|
Posted: Aug 04, 2015 1:05 PM

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit accusing a school resource officer in Kentucky of handcuffing two disabled children to punish them for behavior related to their disabilities, ACLU officials said on Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on Monday. It accuses Kenton County Sheriff’s Office deputy Kevin Sumner, a Covington Independent Public Schools resource officer, of violating the children's constitutional rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act during three incidents in 2014.

Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn and the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office are also named as defendants in the lawsuit. None of the defendants responded to requests for comment.

The ACLU posted a video on its website showing an officer locking handcuffs around a young boy's biceps behind his back as he sobs and squirms.

"Oh God, that hurts," the boy screams in the video as a deputy stands over him.

The 52-pound (24-kg), 8-year-old boy identified as S.R., who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was shackled by Sumner for 15 minutes after he attempted to hit the officer with his elbow, according to the ACLU.

"You can do what we ask you to or you can suffer the consequences," the officer says in the video.

The boy's mother said in a statement through the ACLU that her son has had a hard time sleeping since the incident.

"School should be a safe place for children. It should be a place they look forward to going to. Instead, this has turned into a continuing nightmare for my son," she said.

Sumner also twice handcuffed "L.G.," a 9-year-old girl who has ADHD and other special needs, behind her back by her biceps because she was misbehaving, causing her pain, according to the ACLU's lawsuit.

"Shackling children is not okay. It is traumatizing, and in this case it is also illegal," ACLU lawyer Susan Mizner said.

Kentucky law limits the use of restraints to situations where the student's behavior poses an imminent danger of physical harm to themselves or others, according to the ACLU.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)