A 7-year-old boy in Florida was escorted from school and taken for a psychiatric evaluation in handcuffs by police after he allegedly hit his teacher.
The boy’s mother, Mercy Alvarez, filmed her son being led by a police officer in handcuffs to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami on Thursday, Jan. 25.
According to the Miami Herald, the boy was detained under the Florida Mental Health Act (Baker Act). Under the act, police may take a person into custody and subject them to psychiatric examination if there is a likelihood that the person will harm themselves or others.
Alvarez is outraged at the police response, which she perceives as harsh and disproportionate.
“This is police abuse; a whim of the officer, because my son was calm when they came to look for him,” Alvarez told El Nuevo Herald.
In a statement, Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Ian Moffett said it was not common to deal with children in this way, but in this case, it was “warranted to prevent [the boy’s] erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself,” he told the Herald.
“The manner in which he was transported to the receiving facility was done in accordance with standard operating procedures,” said Moffett.
Alvarez took to Facebook to express her anger over the incident. Since her post on Jan. 26, Alvarez told the Herald that “more than 30 mothers in Miami have written to me in solidarity because their children have done the same thing.”
She and her husband, Rolando Fuentes, have met with lawyers to discuss the possibility of suing the Miami-Dade School District and police, reports the Herald.
Miami-Dade County public schools spokeswoman, Jackie Calzadilla, told the Herald that the incident arose after the child “began behaving erratically and hit a teacher.”
“Due to a great concern for the student and to ensure his safety and that of those around him, he was restricted according to the Baker Act and transported to the hospital to be evaluated,” she said.
According to a police report, the child was taken out of the cafeteria for playing with his food, reported 7-WSVN. In the hallway, he then “attacked the teacher by repeatedly punching her on her back.”
Once the boy was restrained, he continued to throw punches and kicks towards the female teacher until they both fell to the ground.
While on the ground the boy kept on fighting until he was restrained once again, the report said.
The teacher reportedly wants to press charges against the child.
Alvarez told WSVN that she believes his misbehavior is a result of her son being bullied at school.
The boy was reportedly suspended last November for 10 days for another tantrum at school.
School police said this incident is under review.