Lawsuit: Faculty Useful resource Officer Used Extreme Drive on Autistic Pupil

Image of an elementary classroom

The City of Statesville, Michael Fattaleh and the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education were recently hit by a lawsuit after a 7-year-old student was handcuffed and treated with excessive force by the school's resource officer.

Late last week, a lawsuit was filed against the City of Statesville, Michael Fattaleh, and the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education on charges that a "7-year-old child with autism was treated with excessive violence by a school officer. and was face down on the floor for almost 40 minutes. "The incident occurred in 2018, and according to the student's parents, Fattaleh was" a Statesville Police Department officer and a Pressly Alternative School resource officer at the time of the alleged incident. "

Autism Awareness Graphic; Image courtesy of karelinlestrange via Pixabay,

What happened? Well, according to the lawsuit, the student was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of seven. At the time of the alleged incident, the child was only 4 feet, six inches tall and about 80 pounds. The parents stated in the lawsuit that "school officials and necessary Statesville law enforcement officers were kept abreast of the diagnoses and updates on the child's mental health." During the first few weeks of school at Pressly, the child had "behavior problems … especially during transitions". The suit states:

On September 10, 2018, the boy was prescribed a new drug and several school system staff were notified. Then, the next day, the boy got excited and verbalized after being stressed out after a series of transitions in and out of the classroom. The child was taken to the school's rest room to calm down according to the complaint and was in the presence of a special education teacher, behavioral specialists and teaching assistants. "

The lawsuit goes on to say that an employee informed a school officer that he "didn't need any help, but that officer Fattaleh abruptly walked into the room a few minutes later." From there, he allegedly "saw the child spit on the floor as the officer walked by," the complaint said. Then the suit argues that "Officer Fattaleh said he was mine now" and handcuffed the child, made the child kneel and said to the child, "If you spit on me, I'll put a hood on you." "He also reportedly asked the 7-year-old if he had ever" been charged or brought into juvenile justice. "He also allegedly put his" knees on the child's back to restrain him. "

As if that wasn't bad enough, the suit claims Fattaleh never "asked staff for behavioral or mental health information about the child before they entered the quiet room".

The child's parents accuse Fattaleh of “excessive use of force” and “accuse the educational staff of not intervening in spite of their training and knowledge of the immense damage inflicted on the pupil”.

When the child's mother arrived at the scene after the incident, the child was still handcuffed. She immediately took her child to the emergency room, where the child was "diagnosed with multiple abrasions, scratches and bruises from the incident on his arms, back, abdomen and wrists."

As a result of the ordeal, the child became extremely concerned and has not returned to school since September 12, 2018.


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