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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