Police handcuff, shackle ‘combative’ 5-year-old special needs student

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PHILADELPHIA — The parents of a special-needs student in Philadelphia said their 5-year-old was traumatized after police handcuffed and shackled the boy during an incident at school.

The Watertown Daily Times in New York reported that state police in Pennsylvania handcuffed the boy, took him into a patrol car and shackled his feet after they said the boy became “combative” and “out-of-control” while at Philadelphia Primary School.

The boy, named Connor, was then taken to a nearby medical center.

The Times reported police defended the troopers’ actions, saying Connor was “screaming, kicking, punching and biting” when troopers responded to the special-needs classroom.

However the boy’s parents said that school staff did not properly control the situation before calling police.

Connor’s mother, Chelsea Ruiz, said she was surprised when she arrived at the medical center to see a “big scratch” on the boy’s neck and “marks on his wrists,” the Times reported.

“An officer told me they had to handcuff his wrists and ankles for their safety,” Ruiz said. “I told him that was ridiculous. How could someone fear for their safety when it comes to a small, 5-year-old child? He said that he understood because he had four children of his own.”

The mother also became irate upon learning the child wasn’t put in a booster seat.

“If an accident happened, my son had no way of protecting himself because his hands and feet were bound,” she told the Times.

According to the police report, school staff called 911 after they said they couldn’t restrain the student while he was acting up.

The boy suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, the mother told the Times. He had previously been enrolled in a mainstream classroom before moving to the special-needs class due to the diagnoses.

Both parents told the Times they were not contacted until after the staff had called police.

The mother said she is going public with the story because she wants the school staff to be held accountable. She said she will be suing for emotional distress.

“I will make sure that I get every person who was involved in this to take responsibility,” she said. “This has already happened to my kid — I can’t take that back — but I will make it my priority so that this never happens to a child like this again.”


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  • Honey

    Handcuffing a five year old is ridiculous! Is that what they would do at home to their own children if they were out of control? Should all parents be given handcuffs to handle these situations??? Basically, if it’s not against the welfare of the child for the police to handle this situation in this manner then parents should not be held accountable if they use the same approach, right? Teachers and administrators should go over with the parents how they will handle children during medical meltdowns or behavioral issues prior to the first day of school. If anything changes, both parties should have to sign something to say they are aware of it. Sometimes special needs children need a body hug sort of restraint with soft spoken words or silence that will normally slowly bring comfort to the child and produce less resistance but this is something that needs to be discussed in schools with parents. I can’t even imagine how terrified this child was in a world that many know little about. Police, as well as, school personnel should be well trained in treating a sick child with respect. This was totally disrespectful to someone who couldn’t change his illness because others didn’t like it.

  • Al Allen

    Every day we see thousands of examples of utterly dysfunctional, unprofessional, clueless, rookie “Rent A Cops” who are out of control. Sadly they suffer from “Disrespect From The Law” syndrome and from utterly unprofessional LEO supervisors. They mistakenly think having a uniform, badge, a gun, gives them the power of God over anyone who does not instantly kowtow to them.

    When asked why he handcuffed a small, unarmed, mentally challenged, little boy, the officer responded, “I felt my life was in danger.” Really?

    What is the cure for these substandard, Deputy Doofus, rookies? Basically a sharp attorney rakes them and the responsible department over the coals in court and sticks them with a lawsuit in the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Unfortunately the tax payers of the dysfunctional law enforcement department get stuck with the bill. Sometimes the city has to cut the budget, fire a few LEOs, to stay within budget. All because Sheriff and Deputy Doofus can’t do their job. Sad.

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