Part of Key West Police bodycam footage of the December 2018 arrest was released on Monday by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who represents the boy’s mother.
On Tuesday, she filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that officers were using excessive force, school officials did not interfere, and the city and school district violated the United States Disability Act. States. The lawsuit says the boy has special needs.
Key West police declined to comment to CNN, citing the lawsuit.
Mother Bianca N. Digennaro said during a press conference with Zoom on Tuesday that her son was arrested, jailed, fingerprinted, DNA traced and photographed that day.
Crump said the boy ̵1; 3 and a half meters tall and weighing 64 pounds – had been charged with a felony battery. His mother fought the court case for nine months until a prosecutor denied the allegations.
Crump, Devon Jacob and Sue-Ann Robinson are representing Digennaro in the lawsuit.
“This is a heartbreaking example of how our education and police systems train kids to be criminals by treating them like criminals – if convicted, the kid in this case will sentenced at the age of eight, “Crump said in a statement. . “This boy was defeated by everyone involved in this horrifying incident.”
Jacob, Digennaro’s attorney, said the sheriff’s remarks that this was a standard arrest was exactly the issue.
“That’s the problem. That’s why we have this lawsuit. This case will be over,” he said.
Monroe State’s assistant chief attorney, Val E. Winter, said in an email that a mental health assessment was conducted on the boy, combined with the boy’s attorney and determined that the rejection Drop the allegations is in the boy’s best interests, on the boy’s basis. assess age and spirit.
The case was dismissed after the office received confirmation of the services based on the doctor’s report, Winter said.
The Monroe County School District declined to comment. Primary school did not respond to a request for comment. Unable to contact the teacher.
What police reports and videos show
Police proceeded to arrest the boy after he was believed to have beaten a teacher who was not injured, according to Key West Police reports. Crump identifies the teacher as the substitute.
The teacher is supervising a classroom in the lunch room and saying students are not sitting in the wrong place on the bench, the report says. She asked him to sit correctly several times, and then she asked him to sit beside her, the report wrote. He refused, and she stood up and walked over to him, according to the police report.
She told police that the student told her “don’t put your hands on me” when she approached him. According to the police report, the student began swearing at her, telling her “my mother would hit her in the butt”, and then punching her in the chest with her right hand.
One officer observed that the boy’s hands were clenched into fists and “he was in a ready position to fight,” the police report said.
The report said the teacher did not suffer any “obvious injuries” from the punch.
The police bodycam footage, provided by Crump, began later when three policemen moved to arrest the crying boy.
“Son, do you know where we’re going? I’m going to jail,” said one officer.
The video showed the police asking him to put his hand on a cupboard and then patted the boy. Then the policeman asked the boy to put his hand behind his back and the boy obeyed. The officer then tried to put handcuffs on the boy, but soon realized that the handcuffs would not fit his wrists.
“Your hand is too small,” said the policeman.
Instead, the policemen asked him to hold hands in front of him, the video showed and then they apparently directed him toward a police car, but the video ended before they reached the car.
“You understand this is very serious, OK?” another officer said. “I hate that you put me in this position that I have to do this. Okay? Okay? The point is you made a mistake, now’s the time to learn from it and grow from it, right? ? Don’t repeat the same mistake again, OK? “
Key West police said they did not disclose the entire bodycam video to CNN because the person is a minor.
Mother: The boy has a special needs plan
Digennaro says her son has been diagnosed with ADHD, an antagonistic disorder, depression and anxiety, and he is taking medication to treat them. When he started having an episode, as she said occurred during this incident, he became sensitive to anyone who touched him, she said.
In February 2018, the district conducted an evaluation of the boy and classified the boy as having “behavioral or emotional disabilities,” according to the lawsuit. The district also developed an Individualized Education Program tailored to his needs, the complaint stated.
In a statement, Crump said that teachers were not aware or interested in those needs and the situation escalated. The police report does not indicate that he has special needs, and it is not clear whether the teacher or the police are aware of the disability.
According to the police report, the school contacted the boy’s parents before arresting him. The lawsuit indicated that the student’s mother was out of town and that the father went to school before the boy was detained.
Jacob, the family’s lawyer, criticized the police’s actions in connection with the incident.
“As a former police officer, I was appalled by the behavior of these officers,” he said. “Their actions and treatment of this boy, in addition to being inappropriate, goes against widely accepted police procedures for the treatment of minors and people with disabilities. “
“We’re trying to fight for the young Bianca Digennaro but (also) for the other disadvantaged kids who the system will try to pipe from school to prison even before they reach age. underage, “he said.
Digennaro said her son, now 10 years old, is doing better but the incident is very painful.
“It hurts me so much that this has happened to my son,” she said.
“I’m here for my son because I refused to let them turn him into a crime or was convicted of a felony when I was 8 years old.”
CNN’s Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.