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Suit filed after N.Y. girl handcuffed in school

NEW YORK — A lawsuit is seeking damages from New York City on behalf of a girl handcuffed after a fight with a classmate.

It says Sofia Bautista, hwo was 10 at the time, was traumatized after she was removed from her Bronx elementary school last April and was held by police for three hours.

"We grabbed each other and started kicking and punching," Sofia told CBS station WCBS-TV in New York in describing the fight.

A teacher broke up it up.

Sofia was the only one sent to the office of the principal, who called her mother and police.

Sofia says she was shocked to see the officers and the handcuffs which were, she told CBS 2, "too tight."

Steve Goldman, the family's attorney, filed the lawsuit against the NYPD.

"They overreacted," he said.

The NYPD, however, described things differently, saying in a statement: "Contrary to her lawyer's assertions, the girl who assaulted the other girl was not interrogated... the girl's mother joined the girl in the juvenile room of the station house." The NYPD also says Sophia was held for an hour-and-a-half.

Her mother, who doesn't speak English, told CBS 2 she was kept just outside the room.

"She says she felt incompetent and helpless," the translator for Amarilis Bautista

"Taking a 10-year-old to a precinct, interrogating her while cuffed to a chair ... the idea that our NYPD is in a position and now wants to defend that is outrageous," Goldman said.

No charges were ever filed. Sofia returned to school and made up with the girl she fought with, but she said she'll never forgive the police.

"I hate police," she said, adding she didn't hate them before the incident.

The family says it hopes the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court Friday and seeks unspecified damages, changes the way officers treat the very young, especially when it comes to handcuffs.

The suit focuses attention on an issue that's gotten increasing interest in the courts recently.

Other lawsuits have involved a 12-year-old handcuffed last year after she doodled on her desk and a 5-year-old handcuffed in 2008 after he threw a tantrum in a principal's office.

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