Caddo Parish, LA — A deeply disturbing lawsuit filed in federal court this month tells the horrific story of an autistic child at a Caddo Parish high school who was tasered and left lying motionless in a pool of his own urine.
According to the lawsuit, filed by the non-verbal child's mother, Rosie Philips, her son's civil rights were violated under federal disability laws after a Caddo Parish Sheriff's deputy attacked him. The sheriff's department is reportedly responsible for providing security for some Caddo Parish schools.
When contacted for a comment on the case, Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator did not respond to specific details of the incident, saying, "But I can say that we are always seeking ways to improve. As we strive to be the best law-enforcement agency around."
According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred on Aug. 31, 2017 at Northwood High School. The boy, identified in the lawsuit as "J.H." had been in school for 14 days before the incident. J.H. was so severely autistic that he was in the schools program for children with "severe and profound autism."
On Aug. 31, J.H. reportedly began rubbing his stomach against the wall in the classroom when a staff member told him to stop. J.H. then walked out of the classroom and down the hall to the water fountain where he began to compulsively drink water. He then stood in the hallway with his fingers in his ears which is normal behavior for J.H. when he is stressed, according to the lawsuit.
Staff members, including a deputy then formed a semi-circle around J.H. which escalated the situation even further.
As the Shreveport Times reports:
Northwood's school resource officer, a Caddo sheriff's deputy identified in the lawsuit only as "Deputy Nunnery," approached the boy with his hand on his taser and did not try to de-escalate the situation, according to the lawsuit. Instead, Nunnery and members of the school staff formed a semi-circle around J.H. for about seven minutes, the lawsuit alleges.
J.H. tried to break free of the semi-circle and swatted at administrators. The deputy then allegedly fired his taser, possibly striking J.H. several times and sending the boy to the ground, according to the lawsuit.
On the floor, J.H. did not move. He urinated on himself. J.H. was left on the floor until his mother arrived and, during that time, Nunnery did not check on J.H.'s condition, according to the lawsuit.
"In this period in which he lay on the floor, the Sheriff’s deputy did not check his condition, his vitals, did not determine whether J.H. was still breathing, and made no motion to otherwise determine that J.H. was safe," the lawsuit alleges.
When the boy's mother arrived at school, she found her son on the floor, drenched in his own urine. She then helped him up and then left the building.
According to the lawsuit, the entire incident that unfolded in the hallway was captured on the school's surveillance video. What's more, according to the suit, the deputies have no training on how to handle autistic children, including the deputy whose job it was to patrol the school.
The sheriff's office could not produce training materials, written policies and other documents regarding interactions between deputies and those with autism from August 2013 to August 2017, according to the lawsuit.
"The Sheriff’s deputies that were patrolling the hallways of NHS had little or no training on individuals with disabilities, interacting with individuals with autism, or de-escalation protocols and related best practices for children with autism," the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit states that J.H. had never had a disciplinary problem at school prior to being tasered by this deputy. Now, however, he is petrified to even leave his own home.
Recommended for You
"Immediately after the incident, J.H. would not sleep in his own bed. J.H. is afraid to be alone, to leave his home, and to go anywhere without his family," the suit alleges. "He has not wanted his family to leave the house or even the room without him. Also, he now prefers to be physically close to people and even holds on to them, where before he avoided physical proximity and contact."
The boy's mother is seeking unspecified damages, noting in the lawsuit that a judgement "regardless of the amount, would deter the defendant from discriminating against individuals with autism in the future."
Sadly, as schools across the country rely more and more on police to force student compliance, instead of training and common sense, this scenario becomes more common.
Last year, the Free Thought Project reported on 6-year-old Nicholas, who is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Nicholas was kidnapped from his elementary school by police and imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital.
He was held, including multiple stints in a 'seclusion room,' for three days at River Point Behavioral Health -- for a temper tantrum at school.
If a 6-year-old boy was taken by police from a school and locked in an isolation room in the 90's, you can rest assured that this would not fly. Now, however, police force as a reaction to childhood problems has become the go-to approach in the land of the free.
We also reported on the video showing a San Antonio Independent School District police officer body slam a 12-year-old girl. In February, the Free Thought Project brought you the story of the Baltimore School cop who was seen beating a student who had done nothing wrong.
In fact, recent videos have revealed a myriad of school cops attacking unarmed students. In December 2016, Officer Rigo Valles was cleared of any wrongdoing after grabbing a student by the neck and slamming him to the floor. In October 2016, Richland County Deputy Ben Fields was fired after students recorded him flipping over a girl’s desk and dragging her across the floor. Oklahoma City Master Sgt. Thomas Jaha was charged with assault and battery in October as well, after repeatedly punching a student in the face for not having a hall pass.
In November 2015, prosecutors agreed to dismiss assault charges against Louisville Metro Police Officer Jonathan Hardin for punching a student in the face if the former officer completes anger management classes.
And these are the ones the public knows about. How many more incidents, just like this one, go unreported and unpunished?
What this data illustrates is the societal dependence on the state to solve matters that should be handled without government. Being dependent upon the state to solve one's problems is a de facto dependency upon violence.
"THE STATE REPRESENTS VIOLENCE IN A CONCENTRATED AND ORGANIZED FORM. THE INDIVIDUAL HAS A SOUL, BUT AS THE STATE IS A SOULLESS MACHINE, IT CAN NEVER BE WEANED FROM VIOLENCE TO WHICH IT OWES ITS VERY EXISTENCE." -MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI
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.
Until people wake up to the reality of relying on a system of violence to maintain "order" and behavior compliance, we can expect this problem to get worse.