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Disabled elementary students shackled for misbehaving, lawsuit claims

A sheriff's deputy in Kentucky illegally shackled two disabled children in a school after they misbehaved, a lawsuit filed Monday claims.
An 8-year-old disabled student was handcuffed for misbehaving, a federal lawsuit claims. (Photo courtesy of ACLU)
An 8-year-old disabled student was handcuffed for misbehaving, a federal lawsuit claims.

A sheriff's deputy in Kentucky illegally shackled two disabled children in a school after they misbehaved, a lawsuit filed Monday in federal district court claims.

Video posted by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the children, showed one of the encounters, which involved an 8-year-old boy and a sheriff's deputy who was working as a resource officer at Latonia Elementary School, just south of Cincinnati.

The boy, who is identified in the lawsuit as S.R. and has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to the complaint, was sent to the vice principal's office in November 2013 after experiencing "disability-related difficulties complying" with his teacher.

Video footage from the office shows the deputy, Kevin Sumner, placing the boy's hands behind his back and handcuffing his biceps.

"You can do what we've asked you to," Sumner says, "or you can suffer the consequences."

Throughout the 7-minute video, which was filmed by school personnel, according to the lawsuit the boy shouts, cries and kicks at a table in front of him.

"If you want the handcuffs off, you've got to stop kicking," Sumner says.

Claudia Center, a lawyer with the ACLU, told NBC News that the Americans with Disabilities Act says that children must pose "a direct threat" to themselves or others for a restraint to be used, and that most states—including Kentucky — have adopted laws that say the same thing.