Police Who Handcuffed 8-Year-Old Autistic Boy Committed a Crime

denver police carI consider myself to be an extremely lucky mom, because both of my children are healthy: No chronic illnesses, no disabilities, no developmental delays or disorders. My ride as a mother is relatively easy, and still my heart breaks when my kids suffer physically or emotionally. If that's what it's like for me to watch my kids get snubbed on the playground or run a high fever, Denver mom Raiko (the family's last name is being withheld) must have felt like her heart was being ripped out of her chest when she was forced to watch police take her 8-year-old autistic son away in handcuffs.

Every single detail of this story makes me sick, sad, and seriously outraged. How a situation like this one could be so grievously mishandled, especially now, when we know more about autism than ever before ... it's downright scary.


The 8-year-old boy (again, name withheld) was riding the bus home from school when he had some kind of outburst. No details yet on why he had this episode or what, exactly, it entailed, but the driver handled it by turning the bus around and taking the boy back to school, where his parents were called.

(Interestingly, the boy is supposed to be wearing a special seat belt on the school bus at all times, but it turns out, nobody buckled him in on the day of his outburst. No one seems to know why.)

Raiko went to the school immediately. What she saw when she got there made her break down crying on the spot: Her 8-year-old son was sitting quietly, surrounded by police officers and Denver Public School Security ... with his hands cuffed tightly behind his back.

To make matters worse, police insisted that the boy ride in the back of their patrol car alone, still handcuffed, to the children's hospital for "treatment." They would not allow Raiko to drive him herself or even sit beside her son. Next came a long wait at the Emergency Room, as all of the beds set aside for mental health patients were filled.

WHY? The boy was already being treated by both a therapist and primary care doctor. As his parents argued, all the school and/or police had to do was to contact the medical professionals responsible for their son's care. Instead, he was made to wait, restrained, for an unnecessary evaluation by unfamiliar doctors.

Beginning with the failure to restrain the boy properly on the bus, everything that happened to this kid was a grievous offense. His parents have already enrolled him in a different school where they hope to avoid future incidents like this one, but the fact that this occurred even once is unforgivable.

What would you do if police handcuffed your 8-year-old child?

Image via Jeffrey Beall/Flickr

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