A Miami police officer was suspended for two days without pay after a department Internal Affairs investigation -- which was recently released -- determined he had handcuffed a 5-year-old boy for fighting with another student at a local elementary school.
In an interview with WFOR News (shown below), the young boy’s father suggested the officer had gone too far.
“It’s not just,” Hector Feliciano told WFOR in Spanish. “I should be reprimanding my child. An officer handcuffing him is unacceptable."
The incident reportedly happened in February. Police Officer Paul Gourrier, who was also accused of pulling on the boy’s ear, was placed on a two-day suspension in June and ordered to undergo professionalism and ethics training, WFOR reported.
According to a recently released Internal Affairs report of the investigation into the incident, the boy’s kindergarten teacher, Michelle Svayg, brought the boy to the office of school counselor, Margarita Fernandez, saying he had bitten another student while the two were arguing over a toy.
The report indicates that Fernandez said the boy continued to play around in her office “as if everything was a joke," according to WPLG News.
Fernandez reportedly said she did not see Gourrier pull on the boy’s ear but Gourrier asked the boy if he knew what could happen to him if he continued to act out at school.
She said the boy said, “No,” and the officer replied, "Let me show you. I'm going to show you what happens so that you can understand."
Fernandez noted that she never saw Gourrier pull on the student’s ear, but she did see him escort the boy out of her office in handcuffs and return about two minutes later with the handcuffs removed, according to the report.
A school security guard said in the report that she saw the officer walk the boy to the front door of the school, point to his police cruiser, and explain to the boy that if he continued to act out he could go to jail. According to the Internal Affairs report, Gourrier “admitted to handcuffing the student to demonstrate the consequences for his actions and to ‘tugging’ on his ear to get his attention,” WFOR reported.
Because of the admission, the Internal Affairs investigation found that the allegation of misconduct was substantiated, according to WPLG.
The report stated that Gourrier’s actions were in violation of numerous departmental orders including unnecessary force, improperly dealing with juveniles, and conduct unbecoming a police officer.
His 20-hour suspension was effective June 24.
Miami-Dade County Schools released a statement saying that Gourrier was not an employee of the school system.
“Our officers are specially trained to deal with children using abundant care and compassion,” the statement read in part. “At Miami-Dade County Public Schools, we do not condone this action on the part of other law enforcement entities, even if was done as part of a demonstration to teach a lesson.”