Montgomery County

Lawsuit Alleges Police Assaulted, Demoralized 5-Year-Old Who Walked Away From School

According to the lawsuit, one of the officers told the child, “Does your mama spank you? Does your mama spank you? She’s going to spank you today"

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A mother in Silver Spring, Maryland, filed a lawsuit against Montgomery County, Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County Police over an incident in which she says her 5-year-old son was mistreated by two police officers. 

The lawsuit alleges that two Montgomery County officers assaulted and demoralized the boy after he walked away from East Silver Spring Elementary School during school hours in January 2020. 

The alleged abuse happened when officers found the boy a short distance away. 

Attorneys representing the boy’s mother obtained video from the body camera of one of the officers and claim that in it, the officers could be heard repeatedly saying that the kindergartner should be beaten and that he was bad.

“Does your mama spank you? Does your mama spank you? She’s going to spank you today,” one of the officers allegedly said. 

The attorneys quote from the body camera video extensively in the lawsuit. News4 has not seen the video.

The lawsuit also said the boy was placed in a police car, which was “extremely frightening to [him] because he thought he was going to be taken to jail.”

"Very, very upset, not offering any physical resistance. And the officers and in turn the school treated him like he was a common criminal," attorney James Papirmeister said.

The attorneys said the boy was never offered any services or comforted, and was briefly handcuffed. 

Papirmeister said at one point, “The officers [were] advising [the mother] how to get away with beating the child without getting in trouble for child abuse. She said, ‘I don’t want to beat my child.'"

They said that when the boy wouldn’t stop crying, an officer allegedly told him, “I don’t want to hear it. I still don’t want to hear it. You better stop. You better cut that out.”

“The male officer pulled out handcuffs and kind of displayed them like this and said to the youngster, ‘When you grow up, these will be your best friend,’” Matthew Bennett, an attorney also representing the mother, said. 

Montgomery County police and the school system declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The attorneys said the boy’s mother is seeking monetary damages and wants to make sure no other child is treated this way.

“Something went awry here and we're hoping that a lesson can be learned from it in the sense that it doesn't happen in the future and whatever training or retraining needs to be done gets done,” Bennett said. 

In a letter to the community, the principal of East Spring Elementary School, Michael Burd, said Saturday, "I want to assure you that we are unwavering in our commitment to ensure that East Silver Spring Elementary School is a safe place where all students can learn, thrive and reach their highest potential."

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