A school district in North Texas is under fire just before the start of the new school year after body camera footage from the end of last school year shows how a school resource officer handled an overstimulated autistic child.
According to CBS DFW, the incident happened at Alexander Elementary School back in April. Speaking to the news station, Emily Brown – the mother – revealed how much it hurt to watch the video footage.
“You’re flooded with so many different emotions. Anger, hurt and just lonesomeness.”
In the video, her autistic 10-year-old son Thomas could be seen backed into a cubby in the classroom.
According to the Denton police department, Thomas was “being disruptive and swinging the computer mouse near other kids.” School resource officer Eric Coulston is seen in the video picking up Thomas as he screams and thrashes.
The boy’s father Robert told CBS DFW the officer carried his son to a quiet place before “face planting” him. The fathered admitted to feeling helpless for his son as he watched the video.
In the video, the officer can be seen handcuffing the 10-year-old before pinning him to the ground. Police note the boy spit at and kicked the officer during the incident.
The school district and police department maintain that no laws were broken and protocol was followed.
“We have protocols in place to ensure the safety of all of our students. In this instance, the student resource officer (SRO) made the determination, after all other efforts to deescalate the situation proved ineffective, that the student was a detriment to his own safety and that of the other students and staff. As with any situation that involves an SRO handling a student, we will continue to review our practices and work with our partner law enforcement agencies – in this case the Denton Police Department – to ensure that established protocol is followed safely and effectively,” the statement reads.
After reviewing the footage and the incident reports, the city of Denton determined there were “no violations” per the law or school policies. According to the statement released by the city, the child was restrained only after he posed a threat to himself or others. The statement went on to explain the restraints were removed when the child calmed down.
According to Emily, the school did not call them about the incident until two hours after it happened.
“It’s disgusting that this officer is put there to protect and serve our children, and he abused a disabled, little boy. He showed no compassion in that room.”
Thomas’ parents are currently considering taking legal action against both the school district and the police department. The parents also explained at their son would not be returning to this school.
CBS DFW notes Officer Coulston is still currently employed at the school as a school resource officer.