The officer told the mother that her son would be charged with one or two counts of assault.
Disclaimer: This story contains details and video of police brutality and child abuse that readers may find disturbing.
An autistic boy was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a school resource officer in North Carolina for almost 40 minutes until his mother arrived. According to WSOCTV, a 7-year-old autistic boy from Pressly Alternative School was brutally treated by Statesville Police Officer Michael Fattaleh.
The incident occurred after Fattaleh responded to a call from the school staff about an unruly boy on 11 September, 2018. Allegedly, the boy was agitated and spitting around. Soon, the officer arrived at the scene and said, “I’ve got him, he’s mine now,” according to the Daily Mail.
He took the boy from the staff who were restraining him and handcuffed him after pinning him to the ground. Meanwhile, the staff put a pillow under the boy’s face and removed his glasses.
“Don’t move. Spit on me, and I’ll put a hood on you,” Fattaleh reportedly said to the little boy. He further inquired if he could breathe.
“If you, my friend, are not acquainted with the juvenile justice system, you will be very shortly. You ever been charged with a crime before? Well, you’re fixing to be,” said the officer to the autistic child, according to WSOCTV. The bodycam footage of the outrageous incident also showed Fattaleh holding onto the arms of the student at intervals.
Despite the child showing signs of discomfort, the officer continued to treat him badly. He said, “You ever heard the term babysitter? I take that term literally, my friend.”
The footage also showed Fattaleh checking if the boy was doing ok by asking him if he was hot or warm. However, he did not move the boy from the ground. According to the Daily Mail, the boy complained that his knee was hurting but the officer continued the same after responding, “Yeah, it sucks, doesn’t it?”
After nearly 25 minutes of being restrained, the boy began to cry. He screamed out loud and asked the officer to get away from him.
Shortly, the mother of the child arrived and another officer removed the boy’s handcuffs. Fattaleh then told the mother that her son would be charged with one or two counts of assault.
The infuriated mother hugged her little boy and asked the officer, “Was this necessary? How do you charge a special needs child with assault?”
Speaking of the unfortunate incident, the mother who wanted to remain anonymous stated, “I was enraged, infuriated, and just devastated.” She added that she chose Pressley School as she thought her child would receive good care from the staff. “He had some pretty severe separation anxiety,” said the mother, alluding to her son’s medical issues.
She accused the officer and the staff of “torturing” her son. “The staff and the officer, while he was basically torturing my son, talked about the upcoming hurricane, the effects of that and football,” said the mother, according to WSOCTV.
Since the harrowing incident, the mother has filed a lawsuit against Fattaleh, the city of Statesville, and the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education.“The officer’s job as a school resource officer is to make sure the kids, teachers are safe and to inflict harm on a student for what’s perceived as a minor issue is inexplicable,” said attorney Alex Horey, who is representing the family.
Meanwhile, Fattaleh has resigned from his position, according to The Sun. It was also found that the child was not formally charged with any crimes. However, the State Bureau of Investigation conducted an independent investigation of the incident. After reviewing the findings, the state attorney stated there was “insufficient evidence” to prove the officer committed a crime.
The school, on the other hand, said, “We are disheartened by the actions of the law enforcement officer. School should always be a safe space for all students. As educators, we understand the paramount importance of knowing our students and their unique needs,” according to The Sun. They also condemned the actions of the officer.