NEW ORLEANS LA March 23 2017
A New Orleans father is upset and said his 9-year-old son is traumatized after being handcuffed at his Treme neighborhood school last Thursday.
Brandon Joseph said the use of force was extreme and unnecessary, and he wants to ensure no other child is forced into handcuffs. A spokesperson for the private security company that works at the school said it was done for the child's safety.
"My nerves are still rattled behind this. I talk to him, but it's like he shut down. He doesn't want to say or do the wrong thing," Joseph said. "Me knowing my child, if you talk to my child in a certain tone, he'll break down and start crying. There was no need for that much force. I know that."
He said his son is in the third grade at Joseph A. Craig School. He was outside waiting for his mother to bring a permission slip and a security guard told him to go inside.
"In his mind he was getting forced into the school without his permission slips, so he wouldn't be able to get them. I'm pretty sure he argued back," Joseph said.
By the time his mother arrived, the child was in handcuffs and the New Orleans Police Department's crisis unit was on the way.
"After they put him in the cuffs and had him on his knees, he was crying hysterically and in the midst of him crying he screamed he wanted to kill himself, so that's why they called the crisis unit," he said.
Joseph said he met with the school principal and counselor, who told him his child was restrained for his own safety.
"They have over 1,000 ways you can restrain a child without using handcuffs. Handcuffs is a real traumatizing experience," he said.
The school hires a private security company called Security Experts and Leaders. Natalie Rowe, a spokesperson for the company, said the student was verbally and physically aggressive toward himself and staff.
She said the security guard followed their standard use of force policy and first issued several verbal commands, "but the child continued to act in a violent manner hitting himself and staff members."
Rowe said the guard tried to physically restrain the child, but he broke away. "As his violent behavior continued the child stated he wanted to kill himself. The officer then used hard restraints for the protection of the young man, staff and other students."
"I just want it to where this security guard don't be able to do this to another child again. That's my goal," Joseph said. "I think he shouldn't be around children if he doesn't know how to restrain them without using handcuffs."
Rowe said they do not plan on moving the guard because they feel he responded correctly.
Tracie Washington, an attorney for the school said they are continuing to investigate the incident and will review the statements from all parties involved to determine the next steps.
"It is not illegal to have reasonable restraint on a child who is acting violently and causing harm to himself and others," Washington said. "The investigation will be to learn whether it was necessary to restrain the child and whether the restraints were reasonable given the circumstances."
The father said he is scheduled to meet with a panel of people that school officials will assemble as they continue to investigate.