Statesville, NC — When parents send their children off to school everyday, they do so thinking that the school will protect them and take care of them while they learn. All too often, however, as frequent readers of TFTP know, school children become victims of the police state. As the video below illustrates, even a 7-year-old autistic child can fall prey to school cops playing their role in the school to prison pipeline.
A little boy was handcuffed and held face down on the floor for 40 minutes by the school resource officer. Now, because the Statesville Police department never held officer Michael Fattaleh accountable for his actions, the boy's mother filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
The lawsuit accuses Fattaleh of an "unreasonable use of force" and inflicting "unnecessary and wanton pain" on the child during an incident which took place in 2018.
The child, identified in the lawsuit as L.G. suffered emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the incident. And, after watching the horrifying video below, you'll know why that is.
According to the lawsuit, L.G. has autism and "significant impairments" that affect his ability to communicate and express his emotions. On that day in September 2018, the boy was moved to a "quiet room" following "a number of incidents in L.G.'s classroom involving other students."
L.G. was accused of spitting on the floor in the quiet room, so the officer decided to abuse him for it.
"L.G. did not look up, speak, or make any movement when Officer Fattaleh entered the room," the lawsuit states. "Immediately, Officer Fattaleh declared 'he’s mine now,' and placed L.G. in handcuffs. L.G. did not resist."
For the next 38 minutes, Fattaleh would proceed to brutalize the child, threatening and bullying him the entire time.
"If you, my friend, are not acquainted with the juvenile justice system, you will be very shortly," Fattaleh said. "You ever been charged with a crime before? Well you're fixing to be."
While holding him down, the officer said, "You ever heard the term babysitter? I take that term literally, my friend."
After being forced down to the ground in handcuffs for 25 minutes, the boy begins to cry and begs the officer to leave him alone. But the officer does no such thing. Instead, the boy remains face down on the ground as the abusive cop places his knee in the child's back, according to the lawsuit.
For another 13 minutes, despite school staff telling Fattaleh that the boy was "over stimulated," the cop, who knew the child had a disability, held him down until the boy's mother showed up.
The incident was captured on Fattaleh's body camera and shows abuse which L.G.'s mother says is tantamount to torture. We agree.
"The staff and the officer, while he was basically torturing my son," the mother said, "talked about the upcoming hurricane, the effects of that and football."
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After L.G.'s mother arrived, Fattaleh tells her that her son is going to be charged with assault. He's 7 and has special needs and this cop was going to charge him with two counts of assault for a temper tantrum in school.
"The officer's job as a school resource officer is to make sure that the kids, teachers are safe, and to go an inflict harm on a student for what's perceived as a very, very minor issue, is inexplicable," Alex Horey, attorney for the mother, said.
Since the incident, L.G.'s mother no longer trusts the school and has quit her job to homeschool her son.
As for the abusive officer, he resigned while on paid administrative leave and avoided any and all accountability.
As horrifying as this video is, it is sadly not an isolated one. Young children — even those with disabilities — often find themselves on the receiving end of police state violence while attending public school.
Just two months ago, TFTP reported on an 8-year-old boy who was frisked, handcuffed, and hauled off to adult prison for misbehaving in school. That incident was also captured on video.
The fact that the tiny child was so small the handcuffs fell off of him speaks to the nature of that incident. It is nothing short of child abuse and the officers involved need to be fired. What's more, anyone involved in setting this up or condoning an 8-year-old boy being hauled off to an adult prison for misbehaving in school also needs to be fired and potentially charged with child abuse.
But that is not all.
Colton Granito, an 8-year-old boy with autism, threw a tantrum during class. Instead of following the boy's IEP plan, police were called. Colton was handcuffed, transported to jail, and forced to sit in a cell for hours wearing a straight jacket. He was subsequently charged with assault and sentenced to probation.
The photo below is of a 10-year-old child handcuffed, laid out on the back of a police cruiser. The boy’s name is Ryan, and he has autism. He misbehaved at school and was also arrested and treated like a criminal.
In September of 2014, we reported on body cam footage showing a 9-year-old special needs boy handcuffed as his father pleaded with the officer to release him.
That same month, a highly disturbing video of cops manhandling a 13-year-old autistic child as he screamed for help emerged on Facebook.
If you truly want a glimpse into the horrid effects of the police state on all school children, take a scroll through our archives, at this link.