Autistic 7-year-old handcuffed, pinned to ground by North Carolina cop for spitting: 'I'll put a hood on you'
The seven-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is seen in police bodycam footage being restrained with his hands behind his back at the Pressly Alternative School in Statesville
STATESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA: A school resource officer reportedly handcuffed and pinned an autistic boy to the ground, before threatening to charge him for spitting. The seven-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is seen in police bodycam footage being restrained with his hands behind his back at the Pressly Alternative School in Statesville, North Carolina. The officer, identified as Statesville cop Michael Fattaleh, was responding to a call about an unruly child, WSOC-TV reported. Fattaleh can be heard in footage from the September 2018 incident telling the boy, "Spit on me and I'll put a hood on you.” According to the report, he was likely referring to a "spit hood" used by law enforcement to prevent suspects from spitting or biting during an arrest. The seven-year-old is subsequently placed in handcuffs and made to lie on the floor on his stomach.
School staff put a pillow under the student's face and took off his glasses while the officer asked him if he could breathe. "If you, my friend, are not acquainted with the juvenile justice system, you will be very shortly," Fattaleh told the child. "You ever been charged with a crime before? Well, you're fixing to be."
While Fattaleh restrains the child holding his arms behind his back, he also asks him if he was too hot or warm to see how he was doing, WSOC reported. Around half an hour after being held down, just moments before the arrival of his mother, the boy starts crying and tells Fattaleh to leave him alone. The officer later tells his mom that her ward “is going to be charged with one count of assault, maybe two.” However, the parent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was irate and upset about the entire ordeal. She said her autistic child has “pretty severe separation anxiety.”
Speaking to WSOC, the mother alleged that the officer “was basically torturing my son” and claimed he and school staff “talked about the upcoming hurricane, the effects of that and football" while her son lay cuffed on the ground. Alex Horey, an attorney representing the family, reportedly filed a lawsuit against Fattaleh, the city of Statesville, and the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education. According to The Washington Post, the suit was filed last Friday in the District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
“It is incomprehensible to me that anyone would think this response is appropriate and necessary," Heroy told The Post earlier this week. “You don’t need to put metal handcuffs on a 7-year-old and pin them down and turn their arm.”
Meanwhile, an attorney for the city of Statesville revealed to The Sun on Wednesday that the child was not charged with any crimes and that Michael Fattaleh resigned from the police department. And in a statement to The Post, the school district said they "strive to evaluate our processes and improve every day. We are eager to work with community agencies and partners to provide the best environment possible for every student.”