Video of Kentucky School Resource Officer Handcuffing Crying 8-Year-Old Boy Sparks ACLU Lawsuit
Kenton County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner is seen cuffing a crying third-grader
Video of a Kentucky sheriff’s deputy handcuffing a screaming 8-year-old boy has sparked a lawsuit and anger among parents across the country.
The American Civil Liberties Union released the footage, taken by an administrator at Latonia Elementary School in Covington, Kentucky, on Monday as part of its lawsuit against the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office and school resource officer Kevin Sumner, who handcuffed the child, according to the Associated Press.
The 3-foot-6 third grader, identified as S.R., has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a history of trauma, according to the ACLU. In the video, he is seen crying as Sumner makes him sit in a chair and handcuffs his biceps behind his back.
“You don’t get to swing at me like that,” Sumner tells him. “You can do what we’ve asked you to, or you can suffer the consequences.”
The 52-lb. boy is heard telling the officer, “That hurts,” amid sobs.
According to the lawsuit, the boy was removed from class in August because he was not following the teacher’s directions. When he tried to leave the principal’s office, he was restrained by school administrators until Sumner showed. At one point, the boy asked to go to the bathroom and Sumner escorted him. On the way back, things got heated.
The boy tried to hit Sumner with his elbow, according to a report from the Kenton County Sheriff’s office mentioned in the lawsuit. That’s when Sumner put S.R. in handcuffs.
The ACLU says the boy was in cuffs for 15 minutes.
“Shackling children is not okay. It is traumatizing, and in this case it is also illegal,” Susan Mizner, disability counsel for the ACLU, said in a statement.
The lawsuit accuses Sumner of handcuffing two children: 8-year-old S.R. in the fall of 2014 and a 9-year-old girl referred to as L.G.
Sumner’s attorney, Robert Sanders, said his client 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 Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
The ACLU says Kentucky state regulations bar school officials from physically restraining students whom they know have disabilities. The suit claims officials knew the students had disabilities.
The suit also names Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn, alleging he failed to adequately train and supervise Sumner, who works as a school resource officer for several public elementary schools in Covington. Documents also claim that the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Constitution based on its treatment of the children.
“As a result of being subjected to unnecessary and excessive handcuffing, Plaintiffs experienced pain, fear, and emotional trauma, and an exacerbation of their disabilities,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit also details two other incidents between Sumner and L.G. – one of which landed her in a hospital for psychiatric treatment.
The lawsuit is asking a judge to prevent the school from letting police officers shackle children. The suit also seeks money for pain and suffering and legal fees.
A spokeswoman for Covington Independent Public Schools directed PEOPLE to a statement that said the district could not speak about the case specifically because of privacy concerns. The statement 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.”
Messages left for Colonel Pat Morgan, a spokesperson for the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office, were not immediately returned. Morgan previously told the Huffington Post he was waiting for county attorneys to review the lawsuit before issuing any comment.
A message left with Sanders, Sumner’s lawyer, was not immediately returned on Tuesday.
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