Mother wants answers after girl, 6, placed in handcuffs at Toronto-area school
Published Friday, February 3, 2017 8:15AM EST
A Toronto-area woman wants answers after police placed her 6-year-old daughter in handcuffs at her elementary school in September.
Peel Regional Police said officers were called to Nahani Way Public School in Mississauga, Ont. by staff who said the girl was acting violently and couldn’t calm her down.
Police say it was necessary to handcuff her because she was a danger to herself as well as other students and staff. Both the school board and police they tried other de-escalation techniques that failed before resorting to handcuffs.
However, the girl’s family and their lawyer say the force used on the child was excessive.
“According to them, she was kicking, screaming and spitting and punching,” Donardo Jones, the family’s lawyer, said in an interview with CTV Toronto.
But Jones doubts the use of handcuffs was necessary. “She weighs 48 pounds,” he said.
The child’s mother said she was outraged when she received a phone call from police while she was at work.
“The police officer was on the phone and he said, ‘We had to handcuff your daughter,’” the mother said in an interview with CTV Toronto.
After receiving the phone call, she rushed over to the school.
“I couldn’t even think straight – I was really angry,” the girl’s mother said. “Angry at the staff, angry at the police.”
The September incident was the third time the police have been called to the school to deal with this child. They said officers used their discretion and decided that it was necessary to handcuff the girl, first her ankles and then her wrists, to prevent her from harming herself and others.
“With regards to the kicking and punching and the violent actions, they had to restrain her to ensure everyone’s safety,” Peel Sgt. Josh Colley told CTV Toronto.
The African Canadian Legal Clinic is now filing numerous complaints against the school board and police, including human rights complaints.
“Had she not been an African-Canadian child, I strongly, strongly believe this would not have happened,” Jones said.
But police stand by their actions, and say it was not racially motivated. “It’s an insult to think that someone would say that race played a part in the way that we dealt with the situation,” Sgt. Colley.
Police are reviewing the incident, but the African Canadian Legal Clinic says it wants answers and accountability.
“An apology -- it’s a start and only a start,” said Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic. “But I think all that are involved must account for this abusive actions.”
The mother says her daughter is now afraid of police. She has since moved her to a different school.
The school board told CTV Toronto that once police arrive on scene to handle this type of call, they allow the officers to take charge. However, both the school board and police said that they tried other de-escalation techniques that failed before they resorted to handcuffs.
With a report by CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson