Sheriff's Deputy Handcuffed Two Students With Disabilities For Misbehaving, Lawsuit Says
A Kentucky sheriff's deputy shackled two elementary school children with disabilities because they misbehaved in class, according to a lawsuit.
Startling video shared by the American Civil Liberties Union shows an eight-year-old boy sobbing and shouting "it hurts!" as Kenton County Deputy Kevin Sumner handcuffs his arms behind his back.
The boy is so small that the officer puts the cuffs around his upper arms.
"You can do what we ask you to or you can suffer the consequences," the officer tells the boy.
The incident unfolded in November 2014 after a staff member told the child, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, to sit down but he didn't. The boy was handcuffed for 15 minutes, according to the suit.
Sumner, a school resource officer working with the Covington Independent Public Schools district, also put a nine-year-old girl with ADHD in handcuffs, the lawsuit alleges.
He allegedly detained her in the back of his cruiser after she disrupted the classroom earlier in 2014.
He allegedly handcuffed her again on two occasions. After one of the incidents, she ended up going to a hospital for psychiatric assessment and treatment, the lawsuit says.
Both the children were left traumatized by the incidents, according to the ACLU.
The suit says the alleged handcuffing is unconstitutional and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also calls on the sheriff's office to stop using "unnecessary and excessive physical restraint" on children.
"Shackling children is not okay," Susan Mizner of the ACLU said in a statement.
"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 a statement, Debra Vance, the director of communications for Covington Independent Public Schools, said that she could not speak about the case due to privacy.
But she added that school resource officers "are not called upon by school district staff to punish or discipline a student who engages in a school-related offense."
In a report after the November 2014 incident, Sumner said he shackled the boy after he tried to strike him with his elbow. In the earlier incidents with the girl, he said that she was trying to strike staff members.
Robert Sanders, Sumner's attorney, told The Associated Press that Sumner put the children in handcuffs because "they were placing themselves and other people in danger of harm and that's what the book says to do."
The lawsuit also names Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn, alleging that he failed to adequately train and supervise the deputy. It is calling for the sheriff's office to change policies and to provide additional training for school resource officers dealing with children with special needs.
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