Amnon Jakony (Jay Arts Holdings)
A Maryland mother has filed a lawsuit against the Montgomery County Police Department after her 5-year-old son was subjected to a “nightmare” experience, according to NBC News, including threats, screaming, and handcuffing.
The incident took place in January 2020, and Montgomery County police released body camera footage of the exchange on Friday.
What are the details?
On a January day in 2020, the child — who remains unidentified at the time of this reporting — reportedly wandered away from school without permission.
The disturbing video begins when one of the officers discovers the child on a residential street near the school.
An officer stops the child and can be heard asking, “Listen to me: How old are you?”
The child responded, “Five.”
“Five?” the officer fired back. “You feel like you can make your own decisions? You feel like you can do what you want?”
The child, naturally, became emotional and began to cry and carry on during the questioning. As police walked the child to the rear of the patrol vehicle, the child began screaming.
“You better stop,” an officer told the boy in response.
According to the outlet, “As the 50-minute video unfolds, the interactions between law enforcement officers and the child escalate. The boy sobs and appears inconsolable as officers repeatedly tell him that he is ‘bad’ and should be beaten.”
One of the officers can be heard asking the child, “Does your mama spank you? Does your mama spank you? She’s going to spank you today.”
“When the boy doesn’t stop crying,” the report continued, “a police officer screams just inches from his face. Later, after the child was reunited with his mother, a police officer takes out a pair of handcuffs and places the little boy’s wrists inside them.”
The officer told the boy, “You know what these are for? These are for people who don’t want to listen and don’t know how to act.”
In a statement, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando said, “I watched in horror as what can only be described as a nightmare unfolded for nearly an hour. It made me sick.”
What’s happening now?
A spokesperson for the Montgomery County Police said in a statement that both officers remain employed with the department.
The results of an internal investigation, the spokesperson said, are confidential under Maryland state law.
Montgomery County school officials issued a statement on the body camera footage, saying it was “extremely difficult” to watch.
“Our heart aches for this student,” the statement added. “There is no excuse for adults to ever speak to or threaten a child in this way. As parents and grandparents, we know that when families send their children to school, they expect that the staff will care for them, keep them safe, and use appropriate intervention processes when needed.”
The child’s mother — who also remains unnamed at the time of this reporting — filed a suit against the department, Montgomery County, and Montgomery County Public Schools.
She is seeking “compensation and justice” for the child’s ordeal.
Anything else to know?
According to WRC-TV, attorney James Papirmeister said that the child was inconsolable during the ride in the police car.
“Very, very upset, not offering any physical resistance,” he said of the child’s demeanor. “And the officers, and in turn the school, treated him like he was a common criminal.”
“The officers [were] advising [the mother] how to get away with beating the child without getting in trouble for child abuse,” Papirmeister added. “She said, ‘I don’t want to beat my child.’ They said that the boy wouldn’t stop crying, an officer allegedly told him, ‘I don’t want to hear it. I still don’t want to hear it. You better stop. You better cut that out.'”
Matthew Bennett, another attorney representing the mother, added, “Something went awry here and we’re hoping that a lesson can be learned from it in the sense that it doesn’t happen in the future and whatever training or retraining needs to be done gets done.”
(Content warning: Disturbing footage):
Release of Body-Worn Camera Footage from January 2020 Officers’ Interaction with 5-Year-Old Student