A school officer handcuffed, taunted, and pinned a North Carolina boy with autism to the ground for almost 40 minutes. The boy's mother recently filed a lawsuit.
The suit that was filed on Friday accuses Michael Fattaleh of using an "unreasonable use of force," thereby inflicting "unnecessary and wanton pain" on the child. Fattah was a former Statesville Police Department officer.
How it Started
The incident happened last September 2018 at Pressly Alternative School in Statesville - a special-needs school in North Carolina. The boy with autism, identified as L.G., got agitated by the comings and goings of students in the classroom. He had to be moved to a "quiet room" where the spitting allegedly occurred.
The body-camera video from officer Fattaleh shows him coming to the room where a man and two women are sitting with the boy. Fatalleh took the then 7-year-old boy and handcuffed him behind his back. "Don't move. You spit on me, I'll put a hood on you," he told the boy as he presses him to the floor.
At one point in the video, he asked for a pillow to put in front of the boy's face. "Can you breathe?" he asked the boy after telling him to turn his head inside. "He still spitting," he said, "I don't mind the occasional shove, but you don't spit here." He then warned the boy, "If you, my friend are not acquainted with the juvenile justice system, you will be very shortly."
"It's a safety issue at this point"
As Fatalleh continue to restrain the boy, he said, "Ever heard the term baby sitter? I take that term literally, my friend." The last part of the video shows him speaking to the boy's mother. He said that the boy had been defiant, assaultive, and combative. He was asked, "Was that necessary?" and he replied, "Yes, unfortunately." He explained it was a safety issue because the boy had beat him and beat his head on the floor, and that he had been combative.
According to the lawsuit, the child has autism and had "significant impairments," so he has difficulties communicating and expressing his emotions. And that he suffered trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder because of the incident. As for Fattaleh, he was put on administrative leave after the incident. He later resigned, according to his lawyer, Ashley Cannon.
Fattah's lawyer furthered that an independent investigation of the matter was done and no criminal charges were filed, The Charlotte Observer noted.
On Friday, the mother filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, the NBC News report said. According to The Charlotte Observer, the suit accused Fattaleh, the city of Statesville, and the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education of constitutional violations. The suit also accused the defendants of negligence, reckless and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery.
Also, according to the suit, Fattaleh knew that the boy had special needs and it was already explained to him that L.G.'s actions were due to him being just "over-stimulated," NBC News noted.
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