ACLU of Colorado sues DougCo school district, sheriff after autistic child handcuffed

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DENVER (KDVR) – The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado is suing the Douglas County School District, Douglas County Sheriff and several school resource officers over an incident where an 11-year-old Hispanic child with autism was allegedly handcuffed and left in a patrol car for hours.

The incident allegedly caused the child to bang his head repeatedly and sustain injuries.

In the lawsuit, ACLU of Colorado claims school resource officers, without seeking medical attention, drove the child to a juvenile detention center and placed him in custody until his parents were able to post a $25,000 bond.

The criminal case in juvenile court was dismissed in January, according the boy’s mother.

ACLU of Colorado released body camera footage of the incident. Warning: The video may be disturbing to some viewers:

ACLU of Colorado is suing the district and officers involved in this case for violating the student’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fourth Amendment.

“When we saw him, his forehead and arms were so swollen and bruised,” the child’s mother, Michelle Hanson, said in a media statement. “[My son] doesn’t headbang. He must have been extremely dysregulated. After we bailed him out, he wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t speak. [My son] was — is — definitely traumatized. We all are.” 

In response to the lawsuit allegations, 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 particular 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. 

We just received the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and therefore cannot discuss information about the allegations. However, we do note that the body camera video attached to the ACLU media release has been redacted and was not released by the ACLU to the media in its entirety.

The Douglas County School District told FOX31 it has not yet been served with the lawsuit would not have any official comment on the allegations outside of court proceedings.

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