A 7-year-old Florida elementary school student was taken out of school in handcuffs after he allegedly hit his teacher during an altercation at the school.
According to ABC News, the first-grader was escorted out of a Miami-Dade police cruiser’s back seat while wearing handcuffs as his mother videotaped the incident and tried to comfort him while a uniformed officer took the child into the Miami Children’s Hospital for a nonvoluntary psychiatric evaluation.
The boy’s father, Rolando Fuentes, said his son was being encouraged by other students to “mess with his milk and cereal.” However, Fuentes said that his son tried to refuse.
“He says, ‘This is wrong. I’m not supposed to.’ But the other kids told him, ‘Yes, go ahead and do it.’... He felt under pressure, I think,” Fuentes said.
That’s when another student reportedly told a substitute teacher and the 7-year-old was separated from the other students and led back to the classroom.
“From there, I don’t know,” Fuentes said.
An incident report written up by the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department indicated that Fuentes’ son was repeatedly told by his teacher that “if he was to continue to play with [his food] instead of eating it, to throw it away.”
That was when the boy “attacked the teacher,” according to the report, “by repeatedly punching her on the back, in the hallway” while she attempted to tell another teacher about the boy’s refusal to obey.
The teacher managed to restrain the boy, but the report indicates that the child “continued to fight her with his fists and legs,” causing both of them “to fall to the ground.”
Even as they fell to the ground, according to the report, the child didn’t stop struggling, allegedly continuing “to fight the teacher, grabbing her hair and pulling it towards him,” until he was finally restrained “where he was not able to move,” and sent to the principal’s office.
When Fuentes asked his son if he had struck the teacher and pulled her hair, the boy was reportedly silent.
“He just moved his head from left to right,” Fuentes said. “He just took a big breath.”
According to the incident report, the teacher said that she “wanted to press charges,” stating that “her back was hurting,” even though there weren’t any visible injuries from the incident.
Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Ian Moffett acknowledged that it was “rare” for such a young child to be taken into custody in the way that he was, but said it was “warranted to prevent his erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself.”
Fuentes said he thought that he’d be able to take his son to the hospital himself, but that while he was waiting for almost an hour to get the child’s schoolbag, an officer appeared, asking to handcuff the child.
“I asked them two times, ‘Why do you have to take my kids away?’” Fuentes recalled. He said he even begged the officer to cuff him instead.
“I asked them before putting [him] in the police car, ‘Let me ride with him or cuff me, but not my kid,’” he said.
The entire incident has stressed out the family, and now Fuentes says that his younger son is worried about having to deal with police in the future.
“My 3-year-old son came to [me] and said, ‘Dad, I’m afraid the police are going to take my brother away,’” he said. “I told him, ‘No, it’s not going to happen.’”