North Carolina Mother Sues School Resource Officer Who Handcuffed and Pinned Her 7-Year-Old Autistic Son
A North Carolina mother filed a civil rights lawsuit last Friday against a policeman who handcuffed and held her autistic 7-year-old son prone on the ground for nearly 40 minutes.
Body camera footage of the September 2018 incident, first published by WSOC-TV, shows former Statesville, North Carolina, school resource officer Michael Fattaleh pulling the child’s arms behind his back and handcuffing him.
According to the lawsuit, the boy, who is identified only by the initial L.G., had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder the previous year and placed in a special needs classroom. On September 11, 2018, L.G. became overwhelmed and began acting out and spitting in class. He was taken to a “quiet room” to calm down when Fattaleh allegedly walked by and saw the boy spit on the ground. Fattaleh handcuffed L.G.’s hands behind his back and restrained him stomach-down on the floor.
Staff placed a pillow underneath L.G.’s head, and Fatalleh asked him several times if he could breath and if he was comfortable. But he also appeared to taunt L.G. at times.
“If you, my friend, are not acquainted with the juvenile justice system, you will be very shortly,” Fattaleh says at one point in the body camera footage. “You ever been charged with a crime before? Well, you’re fixing to be.”
At another point, Fattaleh puts his knee on L.G’s back and says, “Have you ever heard the term ‘babysitter?’ I take that term literally, my friend.”
L.G.’s mother, who is also not named in the lawsuit, arrived to pick him up. Fatalleh told her L.G. was facing one to two counts of assault. The boy was not charged, and Fatalleh resigned from the department shortly after the incident.
The suit, which also names the city of Statesville and the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education as defendants, argues that Fatalleh unreasonably restrained L.G., violating his Fourth Amendment rights and inflicting emotional distress.
“It is incomprehensible to me that anyone wou
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