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A Kentucky sheriff’s deputy is facing charges in a federal lawsuit for handcuffing two young children with disabilities after the students were sent to the principal’s office for misbehaving.
In a video featuring one of the children, Kenton County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Sumner pulls the arms of an 8-year-old boy behind his back and places handcuffs above his elbows.
“You can do what we’ve asked you to, or you can suffer the consequences,” Sumner tells the crying boy.
The third-grade boy, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a history of trauma, had been sent to the school office last fall after experiencing “disability-related difficulties” and failing to obey his teacher, according to the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Law Center on behalf of the parents of the two children.
The lawsuit also alleges Sumner, a school resource officer, handcuffed a 9-year-old girl who also has ADHD.
“We don’t think handcuffs at the biceps are the way to treat an 8-year-old child, even if the child is emotionally distraught,” the ACLU’s Matt Coles told TODAY.
Cole also questioned why police officers were dealing with young students in the first place.
“Instead of treating things like garden variety discipline, they treat them like law enforcement problems, and it leads to the kind of inappropriate response that we saw here,” he said.
Sumner did not respond to calls from NBC News seeking comment. In addition to Sumner, the lawsuit names Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn for failing to adequately train and supervise Sumner. The Sheriff’s Office, located just outside of Cincinnati in Covington, Kentucky, declined to comment.
Alvin Garrison, Covington Schools superintendent, said privacy concerns prevent him from speaking specifically about the lawsuit.
"However, the school district has fully cooperated with the children’s legal counsel, as well as the Sheriff’s Office, in looking into the complaints and we will continue to do so," he said in a statement to NBC News.
Garrison also said school resource officers assigned to help maintain campus safety "are not called upon by school district staff to punish or discipline a student who engages in a school related offense."