An eleven-year-old autistic boy broke his wrist after he was forcibly handcuffed by a cop for over 20 minutes after he stood up against a bully at Gen. John Stricker Middle School in Dundalk, Baltimore. The incident occurred after the school authorities failed to calm down Jarome Liaison after being summoned to the 'Focus Room' of the school.
The family of the victim while questioning the unnecessary use of force by the cop said that school authorities could have handled the situation by providing a one-to-one aide in small setting to the child.
Cop Called After School Authorities Fail To Calm the Autistic Boy
Speaking to WBALTV 11, Jarome's aunt, Gloria Merritt said that he was diagnosed with autism in 2019 following which they opted for the Gen. John Stricker Middle School to meet his special needs.
Prior to the incident, Jarome, after being felt bullied, entered into an argument with another student. Upon seeing the situation escalating, the school authorities took Jarome to the office. After he tried to escape from the office, Jarome was taken to 'Focus Room' of the school.
A staff member told the outlet that after Jarome started hitting his head against the wall and became uncontrollable to be restrained by the staff member, it was decided to call the school resource officer.
The footage recovered from the bodycam of the cop showed a screaming, kicking, and crying Jarome who was resisting the handcuffs being placed on him. Claiming that the autistic boy was handcuffed for nearly 23 minutes, Merritt told the outlet, "It was terrible. They treated him like a criminal, and he's only an autistic little boy." After being handcuffed, Jarome had been complaining of an injured arm, which was revealed as a broken bone in right wrist, the next day.
School Defends Cops Handcuffing the Autistic Boy
Stating that autistic children need a different behavioral plan, Merritt's aunt said that the school authorities could have helped the child giving him his one-to-one aide and small setting that he needed to be in. "You have to have a behavioral plan for autistic children because they act out in different ways than other children," she said.
In a communique sent to the outlet, while defending the actions of the cop, a Baltimore County Public Schools representative said that "physical restraint is allowed when it's necessary to protect a student or another person from imminent, serious, physical harm after other less intrusive, nonphysical interventions have failed. Police are called for support in emergency situations and their response is dictated by BCoPD best practices."
The County police too, while referring to the department's use-of-force policy, stated that handcuff restraints are permitted to prevent someone from harming themselves or others.