"I hate that you had to put me into this position to do this," one of the officers is heard telling the child in the video.
The 2018 arrest of an 8-year-old boy in Florida became the subject of severe scrutiny this week after a video of the arrest was posted online. The now-viral video shows officers trying to handcuff the crying child and telling him that he's going to jail. Body camera footage of the arrest was shared on Twitter late Sunday night by attorney Benjamin Crump — who represents the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery — had been viewed over 2.3 million times as of Tuesday morning. According to NBC News, Crump said in a press release that he was retained by the boy's mother, Bianca N Digennaro.
"When he acted out, the teacher called the police, who threatened him with jail and tried to put him in handcuffs," attorney Benjamin Crump said. https://t.co/fRrchCEBho— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 11, 2020
"You're going to jail. So you need to stand up and put your hands behind your back," an officer behind the camera is heard telling the boy in the video before frisking the terrified child. The boy — who is not identified because he is a juvenile — whimpered and cried as another officer attempted to place him in handcuffs before realizing that his hands were too small for them. The officers then asked him to keep his hands in front of him as they walked him out of the Gerald Adams Elementary school, where the incident occurred on December 14, 2018.
"I hate that you had to put me into this position to do this," an officer said to be the boy at one point. "The thing about it is, you made a mistake. Now it’s time for you to learn about it and to grow from it, not repeat the same mistake again." A woman also appears briefly in the video but her involvement is unclear. "Unbelievable!! @KWPOLICE used "scared straight" tactics on 8yo boy with special needs. He's 3.5 ft tall and 64 lbs, but they thought it was appropriate to handcuff and transport him to an adult prison for processing!! He was so small the cuffs fell off his wrists!" Crump wrote on Twitter, referring to a strategy used to deter juvenile delinquents from a life of crime by briefly placing them in adult prisons.
Unbelievable!! @KWPOLICE used “scared straight” tactics on 8yo boy with special needs. He's 3.5 ft tall and 64 lbs, but they thought it was appropriate to handcuff and transport him to an adult prison for processing!! He was so small the cuffs fell off his wrists! pic.twitter.com/iSTlXdKas6— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 10, 2020
In a statement regarding the incident, the attorney said the boy was a special needs student with an individualized education plan due to his disabilities. "Instead of honoring and fulfilling that plan, the school placed him with a substitute teacher who had no awareness or concern about his needs and who escalated the situation by using her hands to forcibly move him," he statement said. "When he acted out, the teacher called the police, who threatened him with jail and tried to put him in handcuffs, which fell off because he was too little."
This small boy will be FOREVER traumatized and fearful. Everyone involved in this cruel incident should be fired.— Patrick L. Parker (@LoudSlam) August 10, 2020
WTF! Fire those cops, teachers, and everyone else involved! This B.S. MUST stop! Where are the child’s parents? Where did they take him adult jail? That child shld not be allowed to leave that school w/o the parents knowledge or consent!— Robyn (@Birdey56) August 11, 2020
This is just sick and MUST be CHANGED!
F*cking monsters. They traumatized this child forever. Just made him believe that he is bad and irredeemable. Way to set him on a good, positive, healthy path in life.— Nancy Reibstein (@NReibstein) August 10, 2020
As per an arrest report, the child was arrested for hitting a teacher who asked the boy to "sit properly" in his bench seat while she was supervising the lunchroom. He is said to have repeatedly refused to follow her instructions and supposedly did the same when she asked him to sit by her instead. When the teacher went over to the boy with the intention of escorting him to where she was sitting, he allegedly said "don't put your hands on me" and cursed at her.
"Key West Police Chief Sean T. Brandenburg said in a statement Monday that his officers did not do anything wrong." https://t.co/pQuNskWHn0— julie k. brown (@jkbjournalist) August 10, 2020
The boy then allegedly punched the teacher in the chest, following which his parents were contacted and the child was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center. "Based on the report, standard operating procedures were followed," Key West Police Chief Sean T Brandenburg said in a brief statement. Meanwhile, Key West Police Public Information Officer Alyson Crean said that the department is not in any litigation regarding the incident and is not aware of how Crump obtained the video, which the department is unable to release in its entirety because the subject of the video is a juvenile.