The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against Kentucky's Kenton County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly shackling two disabled elementary school students. The incident was captured on video (below).
The complaint, which the ACLU filed alongside the Children's Law Center, and the law firm Dinsmore & Shohl in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, alleges that the two children suffered pain and trauma at the hands of Kenton County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner, a school resource officer, in Covington, Kentucky.
According to the ACLU, Sumner met with the two children, an 8-year-old boy identified as S.R. and a 9-year-old girl dubbed L.G., at a school resource center. Sumner then allegedly locked handcuff’s around the children’s biceps and forced their hands behind their backs.
S.R., who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a history of trauma, began crying as he was handcuffed, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. L.G., who also has ADHD in addition to other special needs, was allegedly handcuffed twice “also causing her pain,” the ACLU said in a statement on its website.
The children were reportedly being punished for behavior related to their disabilities, but neither of them were arrested or charged with a crime.
The lawsuit also named Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn, alleging that he failed to properly trained Sumner, and the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office — the claim argues that the law enforcement agency violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"Shackling children is not okay. It is traumatizing, and in this case it is also illegal,” Susan Mizner, disability counsel for the ACLU, wrote in a news release. "Using law enforcement to discipline students with disabilities only serves to traumatize children. It makes behavioral issues worse and interferes with the school’s role in developing appropriate educational and behavioral plans for them.”
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the children, seeks to change how the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office deals with children and those with special needs in addition to financial compensation.
"It is heartbreaking to watch my little boy suffer because of this experience," said S.R.'s mother, T.R., in the ACLU's news release. "It's hard for him to sleep, he has anxiety, and he is scared of seeing the officer in the school. School should be a safe place for children. It should be a place they look forward to going to. Instead, this has turned into a continuing nightmare for my son."