An unidentified grandmother in Tacoma, Washington, says that two police officers made her beat her 9-year-old grandson with a belt on June 5 (video below).
"They made me do it," the 54-year-old grandmother told The News Tribune. "They said, 'You need to beat this boy.'"
A June 5 police report does not mention a belt or a beating but a June 6 report, filed by the same officer, says the cops advised the grandmother to use the belt, and told her it was legal.
Police records also state that two Catholic Community Services social workers witnessed the incident, but it's not clear if they reported it to their superiors.
Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said the two cops were placed on administrative leave during an investigation, which is being conducted by the Washington State Patrol.
The News Tribune has refused to publicly name the Tacoma officers because there have not been any criminal charges or violations of department policy.
The grandmother did not want her name used to protect the privacy of her grandson, whom she says has the mental ability of a 4-year-old and was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.
The grandmother adopted the boy and his 8-year-old sister seven years ago, and said that she had never used physical discipline on the grandkids.
The boy was reportedly involved in an April incident that led to his involuntary commitment, according to police records. According to his grandmother, the boy was abused by a babysitter in May, which was reported to Child Protective Services (CPS).
The grandmother recalled to The News Tribune that she had left her house to get some prescription medicine on June 5, and some social workers at her home watched the boy.
The grandmother came back 20 minutes later, and discovered the boy had gone into a rage:
He smashed the windows. He smashed many things. He smashed everything he could reach, and he had knives in his hands and he was bleeding. Stained glass was everywhere, there was glass shatters everywhere all over the floor.
Windows were broken, coffee pots were broken, all the dishes were smashed, everything he could reach was smashed, and glass on the ground. He had knives in his hands, butcher knives and he was bleeding.
The grandmother calmed her grandson down, but one of the social workers called the police, who came to the residence.
According to the June 6 police report, the grandmother asked the cops to take her grandson to a county juvenile detention center, but the cops refused because of his mental capacity and age.
The grandmother told the newspaper that she would usually hold the boy by his wrists and embrace him when he acted up, but was told by the social workers that she could not do that.
The cops told the grandmother that she could use physical discipline in accordance with state law, said the police report, and that "she can use small items as an extension on her hand, due to her physical limitations and size. (One officer) advised (the woman) to discipline (the boy) with a belt."
The grandmother told The News Tribune that one of the cops asked: "Do you have a belt?"
"I handed it to them. They hit the table with it very hard, very loudly," the grandmother recalled. “They proceeded to tell me that I had to use that belt and beat my boy. They told me I had to, and they weren’t going to call an ambulance or anything."
The grandmother said she looked at one of the social workers, who froze: "The police officer said, 'Don’t look at him. He’s nothing. He means nothing to us. We're the ones with the gun. We're the ones with the power. We’re the ones you need to listen to."
The grandmother recalled that the police told her to hit her grandson with the belt or she would suffer the consequences: "Then they told me if I didn't do this, that they were gonna call CPS, take the boy from me, and I’d never see him again."
The police report countered the grandmother's version: "(The woman) asked us to physically discipline (the boy), and we told her, 'No.' (We) explained that it was her child and she had the right to discipline him for his actions."
The grandmother recalled that she gave in to the cops' demands:
And I did it. I hit him with the belt. Of course my boy fought with me, because why wouldn’t he? I will never forgive myself. They told me to wait until he was sleeping and beat him in his sleep. They told me to hit him for every window that was broken. It was absolutely the worst day of my life.
The police report noted the grandmother hit the boy with the belt several times while he cursed, cried, kicked, threw a toy at her and threatened to kill her: "(The woman) pleaded that she fears he would kill her today or tonight. Due to her true fear of (the boy) and his clear dominance of the residence, (we) advised her we would involuntarily commit (the boy)."
The boy was taken to the hospital, where employees noticed the boy had red marks on his body. The grandmother recalled that a hospital social worker threatened her with legal action: "They told me they would bring me up on child abuse charges. I’ve never hurt a child in my life, ever. I told the social workers what (the police) made me do."
The grandmother told the newspaper that the boy has since returned home:
I will never call the police again. They tried to convince me that this wasn’t violence. I said, "That wasn’t violence? Then what was it?" They said, "It’s just discipline." These guys were really prehistoric.
The Huffington Post noted in 2014 that several studies had shown that physical punishment was not an effective means of disciplining children because it can cause them to be more aggressive, make their behavior worse, perpetuate a cycle of abuse, cause problems in adulthood and actually alter their brains.