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'Stop, You're Hurting Me': Body Cam Video Shows 11-Year-Old With Autism Handcuffed At School

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- A Douglas County family is outraged over what they call the mistreatment of their son, and the ACLU has filed a lawsuit. The ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Douglas County School District, Douglas County Sheriff's Office and several School Resource Officers after they handcuffed an 11-year-old Hispanic child with autism.

aclu douglas county lawsuit
(credit: ACLU)

The child was reportedly left in a patrol car for hours Aug. 29, 2019. The ACLU shared a video showing a portion of what happened to A.V.

"Looking at the video, I'm shocked at how much they were touching him, his arms, and grabbing him, and his neck, yelling at him," Michelle Hanson, the child's mother said.

A.V.'s mom told CBS4 he was in an affective needs classroom when a student wrote on him, causing him to be triggered. He then poked the other student with a pencil. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office told CBS4 they got a report that a student had stabbed someone with scissors at Sagewood Middle School.

A.V.'s mom said the officers demonstrated a lack of training when they approached him in a threatening manner, despite knowing he was autistic. On the video, one officer can be heard saying, "Well I asked you, now I'm telling you, we're going to go there okay?"

aclu lawsuit douglas county
(credit: ACLU)

Officers then begin to place him into handcuffs, and that's when the struggle begins.

"Stop you're hurting me," A.V. said multiple times on body cam video.

"We believe A.V.'s right under the Americans with Disabilities Act and under the Fourth Amendment were violated," Arielle Herzberg said.

Herzberg is a lawyer with the ACLU representing the student's family. She said the footage goes on to show the child was left in the patrol car for hours, where he became agitated and could not manage his emotions. This caused him to bang his head inside the car leaving him with severe bruising on his head.

"The whole thing was handled horribly, I think there could have been many other measures that could have been used," Hanson said.

Hanson added that A.V. was brought to a juvenile detention center without any medical treatment. The child was then charged with assault and resisting arrest. His parents had to post a $25,000 bond.

"We want to ensure that Douglas County students don't experience similar harm in the future but more broadly we want to raise awareness about this issue and how it's occurring across the state," Herzberger said.

aclu lawsuit douglas county 2
(credit: ACLU)

The Douglas County School District issued this statement to CBS4: "The School District has not been served with the complaint and has not yet had the opportunity to fully analyze its allegations and claims. Further, the District does not comment on active litigation and will have no comment to make outside of the court proceedings."

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office released this statement, "The Douglas County Sheriff's Office is committed to protecting the entire community, especially the students and staff who attend our schools. When we receive a call for service, especially one that involves a criminal allegation, we must respond. In this incident, it was reported that a student had stabbed another student with a pair of scissors. It was also reported that a staff member had been assaulted."

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