An 8-year-old special-needs student was handcuffed at her St. Louis-area school for and held in a police car for nearly two hours after throwing a temper tantrum Tuesday.
Officers in the Alton, Illinois Police Department are defending their decision to restrain Jmiyha Rickman, who is autistic, after she tried to hit a school resource officer and tore up two classrooms, KSDK reported.
Rickman's guardian and uncle, Nehemiah Keeton said he received a call from Love Joy Elementary School to pick her up, something that he said had happened several times before. Keeton then got a call from police informing him Rickman was in custody.
Keeton said Rickman suffers from separation anxiety and depression.
"I trusted the school to give her the adequate treatment and care she deserves and they failed us," Keeton said.
Police said they treated Rickman, who said her hands and feet were handcuffed and a belt tied around her waist, with the utmost caution.
"I will tell you in this particular case it was necessary to protect that child by restraining that child," said Captain Scott Waldrup of the Alton Police.
“As a last resort we sometime have to involve law enforcement,” Alton Schools Assistant Superintendent Kristi Baumgartner told KMOV. "They take the student into protective custody when the parent refuses to pick up the child.”
But Keeton said he was already on the way to pick up Rickman when school officials got police involved.
"I feel like if you can’t handle an 8-year-old without calling the police,” Keeton said. "To put fear in them like my child, you don’t need to work with kids."
Keeton has pulled Rickman out of Love Joy, telling KSDK he would homeschool her until he decides where to send her to school.