DENTON, Texas -- A north Texas school district is under scrutiny before the start of the new school year after a newly-released video shows how a resource officer handled a child with autism in April.
The incident happened at Alexander Elementary School. Emily Brown's heart hurts watching the body-cam video of her son.
"You're flooded with so many different emotions. Anger, hurt and just lonesomeness," Brown said to KTVT-TV.
The video shows her son, Thomas, backed into a cubby.
Denton police said the 10-year-old, who has autism, was being disruptive and swinging a computer mouse near other kids. School resource officer Eric Coulston is shown picking up Thomas as he shouts and struggles.
Thomas' father, Robert Brown, said the officer carried Thomas into a quiet place called a "soar room" and "face-planted" the child.
"I actually feel helpless for him," he said.
The special needs student was handcuffed and pinned to the ground. Police said Thomas kicked and spit on the officer.
"He's scared. He's got a lot of anxiety because the very people that I told him to trust... he can't," Emily said.
In a statement, Denton ISD said protocol was followed:
"We have protocols in place to ensure the safety of all of our students. In this instance, the student resource officer (SRO) made the determination, after all other efforts to deescalate the situation proved ineffective, that the student was a detriment to his own safety and that of the other students and staff. As with any situation that involves an SRO handling a student, we will continue to review our practices and work with our partner law enforcement agencies - in this case the Denton Police Department - to ensure that established protocol is followed safely and effectively."
The city said a review found "no violations" to laws or policies. "The decision to use restraints was made only when the child posed a serious threat to himself or others. Once the child was calm, the restraints were removed," the statement read.
"It's disgusting that this officer is put there to protect and serve our children, and he abused a disabled little boy. He showed no compassion in that room," said Emily.
The family is considering taking legal action against the police department and the district. According to the family, Thomas will be going to a different school this fall.
Officer Coulston still works as a school resource officer.
Texas child with autism pinned and handcuffed on camera
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