At one point in the video, the officer asks the boy if he has ever "heard the term babysitter" and then says, "I take that term literally, my friend."
Disclaimer: This story contains details and video of police brutality and child abuse that readers may find disturbing
A North Carolina school resource officer has come under fire for restraining a 7-year-old autistic boy with handcuffs and holding him on the floor for over half an hour. The bodycam footage of the officer shows the Statesville Police Officer Michael Fattaleh saying, "I've got him, he's mine now" inside a room of Pressly Alternative School in Statesville. Officer Fattaleh was responding to a call about an unruly student made by the school staff, according to WSOC-TV, the outlet that obtained the camera footage. The infuriating incident which happened on September 11, 2018, saw Fattaleh pinning down the boy for almost 40 minutes after he allegedly became agitated and began spitting, reports Daily Mail.
YOU have no idea. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge in this area understands there are nonviolent restraint methods that trained caregivers can use to keep the person safe. Handcuffing and pinning is not one of those methods.— Erin (@omlettuce) October 14, 2020
When officer Fattaleh arrives, he takes the boy from two other adults who had been restraining him, handcuffing his arms behind his back, and pinning him to the floor. "Alright don't move," the officers can be heard saying. "Spit on me and I'll put a hood on you," he adds as the boy pleads to be let go. The staff members at the school then place a pillow underneath the boy's face and take off his glasses as the officer asks the boy if he can breathe. "If you, my friend, are not acquainted with the juvenile justice system, Well, you’re fixing to be," he says, according to The Hill.
TONIGHT at 5pm:— Allison Latos (@AllisonWSOC9) October 9, 2020
Mother files lawsuit after resource officer handcuffs 7-year-old son.
I will bring you her exclusive interview & the body camera video that shows what happened on @wsoctv.
"You ever been charged with a crime before? Well, you're fixing to be," the officer continues threatening. At one point in the video, Fattaleh asks the boy if he has ever "heard the term babysitter" and then says, "I take that term literally, my friend." The outlet (WSOC-TV) also notes that Fattaleh checks if the boy is doing okay by asking if he was feeling too hot or warm while still restraining him. After being restrained on the ground for roughly 25 minutes, the boy screams and cries for Fattaleh to get away from him. Shortly after this, the boy's mom arrives and the officer tells that her autistic child "is going to be charged with one count of assault, maybe two."
This is an example of law enforcement being used inappropriately. Even if a school resource officer was present, they should have not intervene, because it's not part of their training. The school system needs policy overhaul on children with special needs.— Jerry (@_jerrywithaj) October 13, 2020
The mother, who has not been identified for privacy reasons, is then left upset and furious after learning what her son had been subjected to. She explained that her son has "pretty severe separation anxiety." Later she told the news outlet that Fattaleh "was basically torturing my son" and that her boy was placed face down on the ground as the school staff and cop "talked about the upcoming hurricane, the effects of that and football." She has since filed a lawsuit against Fattaleh, the city of Statesville, and the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education. According to The Washington Post, the suit was filed in the District Court for the Western District of North Carolina for constitutional violations, negligence, and infliction of emotional stress.
Alex Horey, the attorney representing the family, told the outlet earlier this week, "It is incomprehensible to me that anyone would think this response is appropriate and necessary. You don’t need to put metal handcuffs on a 7-year-old and pin them down and turn their arm." The Sun had reached out to an attorney for Statesville who said that the cop in the video has resigned from the department and that the boy was not charged with any crimes. Last week, a spokesperson for the school district shared that "the safety and well-being of our students is a priority for our district every day."
As a school psychologist I was trained to safely restrain. What this officer did was totally unacceptable. The school principal as well as the ESE teachers should have never allowed this to happen.— Rose Rivera, M.Ed. (@riverarose23) October 13, 2020
They further added, "We are disheartened by the actions of the law enforcement officer. School should always be a safe space for all students. As educators, we understand the paramount importance of knowing our students and their unique needs." Furthermore, they reiterated that school resource officers are supposed to be a "positive additions to the school environment" but noted that the cop's action in this case "was not acceptable."
Why does this stuff keep happening???— Jill Marie Inman (@JillMarieInman) October 13, 2020
It seems like *some* of these "resource" officers (what a term!) have rage or empathy issues. Not exactly what you'd want in a school setting.
And, was it "respect" for authority that kept the two teachers from protesting?