(MIAMI) — A 7-year-old boy was led out of a Miami-Dade Police car’s backseat on Friday afternoon in metal handcuffs — while his mother videotaped and comforted him from just a few feet away.
The video captures the boy — his hands cuffed behind his back — stepping out of a patrol and guided into the Miami Children’s Hospital by a female uniformed police officer.
“It’s okay, my love,” the boy’s mother says in Spanish.
His father, Rolando Fuentes, saw the video once — and can’t bring himself to watch it again.
“I saw it once but I cannot see it anymore,” he said.
His son, whom ABC News is not naming because of his age, was at his elementary school and with fellow students during a mealtime in the cafeteria on Friday. According to an incident report prepared by Miami-Dade School’s Police, Fuentes’ son misbehaved after a teacher told him “not to play with his food.”
Fuentes said his son was being egged on by other students to “mess with his milk and cereal.”
But he said his son refused.
“He says, ‘This is wrong. I’m not supposed to.’ But the other kids told him, ‘Yes, go ahead and do it.’… He felt under pressure I think,” Fuentes said.
That’s when one student apparently told a substitute teacher and his son was separated from the other kids and the students were led back to the classroom, Fuentes said.
“From there I don’t know,” he said.
The incident report says Fuentes’ son was told repeatedly by his female teacher that “if he was to continue to play with [his food] instead of eating it, to throw it away.”
The boy then allegedly “attacked the teacher,” the report says, “by repeatedly punching her on the back, in the hallway” while she attempted to inform another teacher of the boy’s unwillingness to heed her warning.
The teacher was able to restrain the boy from further accosting her but, the report suggests, the boy “continued to fight her with his fists and legs” and the tussling forced both the teacher and the boy “to fall to the ground.”
The report states that even on the ground the boy didn’t stop.
He allegedly “continued to fight the teacher, grabbing her hair and pulling it towards him,” according to the report.
Then, the report adds, the boy was finally restrained “where he was not able to move” and sent to the principal’s office.
When Fuentes asked his son about whether or not he struck his teacher and yanked her hair, he apparently went silent.
“He just moved his head from left to right,” said Fuentes. “He just took a big breath.”
After the boy calmed down, the teacher said that though there weren’t any visible injuries she “stated her back was hurting” and “wanted to press charges,” the report says.
Ian Moffett, chief of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, told ABC station WPLG that it is “rare” for a student as young as seven to be taken into custody in this way but “warranted to prevent his erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself.”
“The manner in which he was transported to the receiving facility was done in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures,” Moffett said. “Our Professional Compliance Unit is thoroughly reviewing this incident.”
Fuentes said he thought he would drive his son to the hospital. But while waiting to retrieve the boy’s bookbag for almost an hour, he said the police officer appeared and asked to handcuff his child.
“I asked them two times, ‘Why do you have to take my kids away?'” Fuentes recalled asking.
He said that he even pleaded with the police officer to cuff him instead of his son.
“I asked them before putting in the police car, ‘Let me ride with him or cuff me, but not my kid,'” he said.
Fuentes said the incident has taken a toll on his entire family. His younger son is worried about dealing with the police in the future.
“My 3-year-old son came to and said ‘Dad, I’m afraid the police are going to take my brother away,'” he said. “I told him, ‘No it’s not going to happen.'”
But the father said he is just lost.
“For my kids it was terrible,” he said. “It’s too much to take. Imagine my little boy.”
The father added that his 7-year-old son apologized, saying: ‘Sory to those people, and the police officer.”
The boy is traumatized by the incident, his father said.
“He don’t sleep,” Fuentes said. “He’s nervous. He don’t realize what this is all about.”
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