/  05.13.2022

A 10-year-old Black boy with disabilities feared for his life after a Louisiana police officer placed him in a chokehold according to a lawsuit filed by his parents. The suit also calls for a ban for physical restraints and handcuffings students with diasbilities, NBC News reports.

Ashley Hutchinson-Harper and Terry Harper say that the deputies from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office violated their son’s civil rights while also failing to operate in code with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Their son is identified in the suit only by his initials and was previously diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as an oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), said the suit. Due to his disabilities, the fifth grader was on an individualized education plan.

Deputies were called to Congetta Trippe Janet Elementary School located in Marrero, Louisiana after the student threw a trash can through a window and hit his principal. When deputies arrived, the suit alleges that they did not attempt to de-escalate the situation. It also states that officers did not try to contact appropriate school personnel to figure out why the student was distraught in the first place.

According to details listed in the court documents, Sgt. Steven Trapani grabbed the student’s arm and pulled it behind his back. At the time of the incident it notes that the young boy weighed 95 pounds and was 4 feet, 5 inches tall.

Representing the child’s parents are both the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (ACLU) and the Tulane Law School’s Civil Rights and Federal Practice Clinic who claim that Sgt. Trapani placed the child in the chokehold and pulled him “to the ground.” They also report that the student was separated from his parents and placed in “handcuffs for over an hour” while he was under interrogation.

Following the questioning, the boy was taken into a juvenile detention center where he was charged with “two counts of battery of a police officer, one count of resisting arrest, one count of battery of a schoolteacher and one count of simple criminal damage of less than $1,000.”

The charges were dropped per the suit.


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