Recently released body camera footage shows two Maryland police officers handcuffing and scolding a 5-year-old boy who had allegedly left school without permission.
The Montgomery County Police Department released the video on Friday. It was recorded in January 2020 and has disturbing content.
“I watched with horror as what can only be described as a nightmare unfolded for almost an hour,” Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando said in a tweeted statement. “I get sick”.
The video begins after police find the boy, who is not identified, on what appears to be a residential street in southern Maryland near the Washington border.
“Listen to me. How old are you?” an unidentified officer asks the boy.
“Five,” replies the boy.
“Five? Do you feel like you can make your own decisions?” asks the police officer. “Do you feel like you can do whatever you want?”
The child becomes agitated soon after and begins to cry and scream. The police take the boy to the back of the patrol car and the screaming continues.
“You better stop,” the police tell the boy.
As the 50-minute video unfolds, interactions between law enforcement officers and the child increase. The boy sobs and seems inconsolable when the officers repeatedly tell him that he is “bad” and that he should be beaten.
“Does your mom hit you? Does your mom hit you? Today he is going to spank you, ”one of the officers is heard saying.
When the child does not stop crying, a policeman screams a few inches from his face. Later, after the boy is reunited with his mother, a police officer takes out a pair of handcuffs and places the boy’s wrists inside them.
“Do you know what they are for? They are for people who do not want to listen and do not know how to act,” the officer tells the child.
Montgomery County Police said in a statement that both officers remained employed at the department following an internal investigation, the full findings of which are confidential under Maryland law.
The boy’s mother filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Montgomery County, Montgomery County Public Schools and the Montgomery County Police Department, NBC Washington reported. She seeks compensation and justice for the child’s trauma.
In a statement, Montgomery County school officials said the video is “extremely difficult for us to watch.”
“Our hearts ache for this student. There is no excuse for adults to speak to or threaten a child in this way, ”the statement read in part. “As parents and grandparents, we know that when families send their children to school, they expect the staff to take care of them, keep them safe, and use the appropriate intervention processes when necessary.”
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, the union representing Montgomery County Police, declined to comment on the matter, citing pending litigation.
Community organizers have written an open letter calling for the officers to be suspended or fired.
“The incident made national news, but more than a year later, it has not been fully addressed. This delay in accountability is unjustifiable and unacceptable,” they said in the letter.