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Flint sued for police officer handcuffing disabled 7 year old

Chrystal McCadden stands next to a photo showing her son in handcuffs.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Chrystal McCadden stands next to a photo showing her son in handcuffs.

The city of Flint is being sued after one of its police officers handcuffed a disabled seven-year-old boy in 2015. 

The boy was handcuffed by the officer, who was working as a school resource officer, after instructors at an after-school program called for help in dealing with what the family's attorneys call “behavioral challenges.”  

The lawsuit claims the four-foot-tall, 55-pound boy “at no time … posed an imminent danger of physical harm to himself or anyone else that would have justified (the officer’s) prolonged handcuffing of him.”

The boy was handcuffed for about an hour untilhis mother was called and demanded the handcuffs be removed.

The lawsuit claims the child continues to suffer “fear, anxiety, emotional trauma, and an exacerbation of his disability.”

Chrystal McCadden says her son, who’s diagnosed with ADHD, is still afraid of police officers.

“This should not have happened. And I do not what it to happen to another child in the city of Flint or across this world,” says McCadden.

The lawsuit names the city, Police Chief Tim Johnson, the officer who handcuffed the child and the Flint & Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber administered the Youth Quest afterschool program.    

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, and also policy changes to ensure only trained professionals interact with disabled students.    

Mark Fancher, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, says what happened in this case is not unique.

“Children with disabilities are 12% of the public school population, but they are 75% of students who are subjected to physical restraints,” says Fancher, quoting figures from the U.S. Department of Education. “Black students are 19% of students with disabilities, but they are 36% of students subjected to mechanical restraints.”

The city of Flint declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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