Denver Police Handcuff 8-Year-Old Autistic Boy


Denver police put an 8-year-old autistic boy in handcuffs behind his back and refused to let his mother drive him to a Children’s Hospital; the boy had to ride in the back of a police squad car. The Baltimore Sun reports that the boy allegedly had an “outburst” on the school bus and was taken back to his school by the driver. His mother, identified as Raiko (she did not want her last name used), went to the school and found her son, who weighs about 40 – 50 pounds, surrounded by Denver Public Schools security and two Denver Police officers.

While noting that he may have had to be restrained at first, Raiko did not understand why the handcuffs were not removed once he had calmed down, or why police insisted that he be taken in the back seat of a squad car to the Children’s Hospital.

“He’s sitting next to the window with his hands cuffed behind his back and he’s just looking at me,” Raiko says. “All the adults are standing there, and immediately I just broke down in tears.”

The police report describes an out-of-control child.

Denver Public Schools officials say the Denver Police officer made the decision to handcuff the boy. Police and school spokespeople say they handled the situation the way they did in order to make sure everyone, including the boy, was safe. …

She says police ordered a mental health hold, and then escorted her little boy to the police patrol car, still handcuffed.

“That was very hard. They escorted him to the police car and he got in the back of the car and he just sat there,” she says, “and he just turned and looked through the back of the cop car, looking at me and I’m crying even more because there’s nothing I can do.”

The boy is under the supervision of a therapist and a primary care doctor; his parents noted that, if the school or police thought their son “needed changes in his medication, all they had to do was contact the professionals already seeing the little boy.” Raiko also noted that her son was supposed to be wearing a “special seat belt, but for some reason he was not the day of his outburst.”

While there’s no question that the child’s safety and that of others needs to be taken into account, the school district should have had procedures in place that had been discussed with the boy’s parents in advance. The fact that the boy had to wear a special seat belt suggests that there were concerns about his behavior on the bus. Had school personnel failed to fasten the seat belt properly when placing the boy on the bus? I’m also simply flummoxed to hear that the child was not released to his mother’s care after he had been brought back to the school.

My own 14-year-old son Charlie has had some trouble on the bus. The response has never been to call the police. His teachers, a behaviorist and administrators have immediately contacted us and we’ve then discussed strategies, including explaining to him, in words and pictures, that he has to have “good behavior” on the bus and teaching him about what to do if he gets bored on the long bus ride or if another student might be (for instance) noisy. But physical restraints and punitive measures are too often taken too fast on children with disabilities who may be having “outbursts” because they’re unable to verbally express something like a stomachache or headache.

The Denver boy has now been placed at a new school and his parents have been meeting with staff to make sure he is not handcuffed again. His mother says that “there should be better communication between the school and the people transporting the children to make sure everyone is aware of the child’s special needs.” Indeed, there was absolutely no need to put the child through the trauma of wearing handcuffs and then make him ride in a police car as if he had committed a criminal act.


Related Care2 Coverage

Stop The Handcuffs! Petition With 12,000+ Signatures Delivered

Why Are Children Being Handcuffed at School?

New York Police Handcuff First-Grader

Photo by via flickr creative commons


Leuth Novotny
.4 years ago

this shit makes me so freaking angry ...
we bomb other countries children, we abuse our own children -- great society MY ASS
these are the end of days

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lyndsay G.
Lyndsay G.6 years ago

I am a retired (injured on duty) Police Internal Affairs Lieutenant. To the Denver Police I say SHAME! You are are A DISGRACE to your badge and the office you hold, as well as to the DECENT police officers the World over!

. Why didn't you just Taser the kid? (speaking sarcastically!) You are GD LUCKY you wern't in MY department> I'd have had your asses hanging from the flag pole, then fired, then proscecuted, then see you do HARD TIME! Filth like you make me ashamed to have ever worn a badge!

And to the gentle readers, this IS NOT was police are supposed to be. But unfortunately they exist, which is why we, the "rat squad" do exist. And yes, we also exonerate good cops from false & malicious complaints.

This is just one of the very few incidents that make the news. For every case like this that is exposed, 10-20 get "swept under the rug". Sad but true.

Adult bullies with guns and badges. I say let them go to Russia where at least there is no "pretense" of civil rights and liberty & justice for all

Jennifer S.
Jennifer S6 years ago

It is a shame that the boy and his mother were put through this ordeal. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and police in this country are out of control. They do as they please, and even if what they do is wrong, very seldom does anything ever happen to them for their inappropriate actions. Every week I read another few stories where the police have over stepped their bounds, and the number and frequency is growing. If the bus driver or the bus driver's aide had just done their job and used the special seat belt that they were suppose to use when the boy rode the bus this never could have happened. Who got hurt because the driver or the aise did not do their job??? Of course it was the innocent 6 year old boy that was classified as autistic. Autistics are prone to frequent outbursts. Apparently the driver and or the aide have not been properly trained to do their job on how to properly handle the children that they have in their charge every day. It is so sad that these incidents happen. I feel for the mother and the little boy. I live next door to two autistic boys and if you understand how to deal with them they are a joy to be around!

Joy Jin
Joy Jin6 years ago

horrible. i'm sorry that the mom and child had to go through all of that.

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

I forgot to mention, one user broght up how the police there mistreat pitbulls. someone else asked how that is relivent.

it is because of the old "people who torture animals, move on to humans" and the "well, of course the'll abuse an autistic boy! they do it to dogs, so they just lept the species barrier to humans"

and of course, both parties have stigma and misunderstandings and stereotypes about them. you don't shoot a pitbull just because it is a pitbull, you don't do racial profiling because "you can". and you don't handcuff someone who is autistic due to whatever. a violation of disabled rights, or out of dimwitted "I don't understand how this works so I'll use force instead"

James K.
James K.6 years ago

Can agree that when police are in control of a situation then handcuffs are a reasonable part of maintaining that control. It is about containment, their job would include keep the offender and themselves safe. I disagree that releasing the child to the parent would pose some sort of police liability. Hopefully the law is not so corrupted by lawyers to make that an issue in most communities.

dawn w.
Dawn W6 years ago

If he was being violent and needed restraining,fine,use the cuffs if necessary.But once the boy calmed down,the cuffs should have been taken off and he should have been handed over to his mother.Actually,it all could have been prevented if someone in charge had put his seat belt on him.Negligence followed by incompitence.

Bill K.
Bill K6 years ago

all those armed officers to control one small 8 year old boy?

Michael MacDonald

it sound to me like they just handcuffed the boy so that they wouldn't have to deal with the situation the hard way i.e the right way