Newly released body camera footage shows Maryland police officers handcuffed and screamed at a 5-year-old boy during a January 2020 incident, telling the boy's mother she should "beat him."
The 51-minute body camera video, which the Montgomery County Police Department released Friday, sheds new light on an encounter that's now the subject of a lawsuit filed by the boy's mother.
Montgomery County police officers found the kindergartener after he wandered away from his Maryland school. In body camera footage, an officer can be seen putting the boy in the back of his police squad car, and the boy sobs as he is driven back to school.
After the officers returned the boy to the school, the video shows, both stayed at the school and spoke with school employees. At one point, an officer can be heard calling the boy "a little beast."
When the boy's mother arrives at school, the footage shows both officers encouraging her to beat her son.
"We want you to beat him," an officer says. When his mother replies that she can't go to prison, the officer responds, "You don't go to prison for beating your child."
The boy's mother is now suing Montgomery County, the two police officers involved in the incident and the county's board of education. Her lawyers say the boy suffered emotional trauma.
"There is a certain way to treat a 5-year old boy," said James Papirmeister, a lawyer for the family. "Needing to beat him, like I said, came up at least 15, perhaps 20 times."
The video also shows officers handcuffing the child in front of his mother.
In the footage, an officer asks the boy, "You know what these are for? These are for people who don't know how to listen and don't know how to act."
The boy was released about a minute after the officer handcuffed him, but throughout the encounter, the police encourage the mother to physically discipline her child.
"All I can tell you is beat that a**," the officer says. "That's all I can tell you."
Later, the officer says, "You can beat your child in Montgomery County, Maryland. In front of him and everybody else you can beat him." The officer adds, "And please don't leave no cuts or crazy cigarette burns, nothing like that. We're good, alright? Meeting adjourned."
The Montgomery County Police Department said it has investigated the incident, but the department has not released the findings. The department said both officers are "still sworn officers."
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the law enforcement agency that released the footage. It was the Montgomery County Police Department, not the sheriff's office.