A mentally disabled 8-year-old boy was handcuffed by cops after walking out of school, and his mother is not taking it lightly.
The child walked out of Chapman Elementary School in Chico, Calif., Thursday, and into what seems to be a big misunderstanding. His mother, Meagan Ramey, told a local news station that the mentally disabled boy has a habit of walking off campus, but the principal knows about it. According to KRCR News Channel 7, they have an arrangement: When this happens, the principal follows at a distance behind him.
Unfortunately, this time the boy was followed by the police.
“When they saw a young man dart across 20th street and when he got to the other side of the road, they noted that he appeared to be confused and anxious, and that caused them concern,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. The boy walked away from the cops as they approached him.
“As they were following him, they became even more concerned that he might dart into traffic,” said Honea. “So, at one point one of the deputies took him and restrained him, and that ultimately resulted in him struggling and at one point even scratching the deputy.”
So the police handcuffed the little boy. His mother arrived at the scene to find her son in distress.
“Hands behind his back, his pants were past his bottom, shoes were thrown off,” said Ramey, who asked KRCR not to reveal her son’s name. “He was screaming, kicking, crying, and coughing because he has asthma as well.”
This was very difficult for Ramey to witness. “When I saw him in handcuffs, it tore me up,” she said in a video interview. “I wanted to lose it on them, but at the same time I didn’t want to be getting myself in trouble.”
A video taken by a bystander shows the little boy on the ground with his hands behind his back. You can hear the child crying. The video was posted on Facebook Friday and has since gone viral, attracting 13,000 views. In the video, you can see Ramey arriving at the scene.
“Chico’s finest,” the bystander says sarcastically during the video. “We’re trying to get him out of handcuffs as quickly as we can,” a cop explains to her. “You’re the ones who put the handcuffs on him,” the woman responds. “Take the handcuffs off. He’s obviously distressed, he’s gonna hurt himself,” she argues, to which the cop says, “We’re working on that.”
The sheriff acknowledged how bad the video looks. “When you are restraining somebody, even when you are trying to do it so they don’t harm themselves, and they are screaming and yelling, you know the optics of that aren’t good, it doesn’t look good,” he said.
According to KRCR, Ramey understands that police had to take action when her son was resisting them, but she doesn’t think handcuffs were necessary. KRCR reports that the child left school early the next day because of wrist pain. In the video, Ramey points out her son’s bruised wrists. She said she doesn’t blame the school.
The district that Chapman Elementary School is part of declined to comment on the incident. The superintendent’s office provided this statement: “Chico Unified School District values and respects the confidentiality and legal rights of our students, families, and staff. Without specified permission, we cannot comment on student matters.”
Ramey and her husband plan to file an official complaint, KRCR reports. Once that is submitted, Honea said they will review body cameras and conduct interviews. As of now, the sheriff said, “based on what I can see, their actions were motivated out of concern for this young man.”
Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to the sheriff’s department for comment but has not received a response.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Police officers handcuffed an 11-year-old boy dribbling a basketball for reportedly ‘being disrespectful’
- Outrage after boy with autism was handcuffed
- Arrested teen says his teacher called the police on him for wearing a bandana to school