A Kentucky deputy sheriff is accused in a federal lawsuit of handcuffing two elementary school students with disabilities for misbehavior, violating procedures and in one case caught on video, causing an 8-year-old boy to scream out in pain.
The “disturbing video” (watch it above) of one of the incidents was released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which filed the federal lawsuit on Monday against Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner, Kenton County Sheriff Charles Korzenborn and the sheriffs office.
The children, a boy, 8, and a girl, 9, were too small for the handcuffs so Sumner, who was the school resource officer in Covington, placed the handcuffs around the children’s biceps, above their elbows, and “forced their hands behind their backs,” according to the lawsuit. In the video, the boy, who has a history of ADHD and trauma, is shackled and crying out in pain, including screaming “Ow! That hurts!”
The girl, who also has ADHD and special needs, was handcuffed twice in the same way, also causing her pain, the ACLU says. They were both being punished for behavior related to their disabilities and were not arrested or charged with criminal conduct, according to the ACLU.
“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. “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.”
Sheriff Korzenborn said Sumner conformed to constitutional and law enforcement standards.
“I steadfastly stand behind deputy Sumner who responded to the school’s request for help,” said in a statement to The Guardian. “Deputy Sumner is a highly respected and skilled law enforcement deputy, and is an asset to the community and those he serves.”
Korzenborn said Sumner was called to the school by staff during school hours “after school administrators’ efforts to de-escalate and defuse a threat to others had proven unsuccessful.”