ACLU files lawsuit after 7-year-old is handcuffed at school

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A mother is suing Kansas City Public Schools, after a school resource officer handcuffed her 7-year-old son.

The incident happened back in 2014, when the boy was in second grade at George Melcher Elementary School on Chelsea Avenue.

On Thursday, the ACLU of Missouri filed the lawsuit on the family's behalf, claiming the boy's constitutional rights were violated.

"He just grabbed my hands and twisted them like this and put the handcuffs like that," said Kalyb Wiley Primm, as he used his mother's arms to re-enact a day he'll never forget.

"I was kind of scared," he said.

The day was April 30, 2014, when a school resource officer at his school slapped handcuffs on him.

"I just didn't really like how it felt," recalled Kalyb, who is now 10 and in fifth grade at a new school after being homeschooled for the past two years.

At the time of the incident, Kalyb was just 7 years old. He stood less than 4 feet tall and weighed less than 50 pounds.

According to court documents, he was being bullied by another student in class who had bullied him in the past for a hearing disability. The teasing led Kalyb to cry and scream, disrupting class.

The lawsuit states a school resource officer, identified as Brandon Craddock, responded and removed Kalyb from class. Once in the hallway, Kalyb was still crying and yelling, and refused to follow Craddock's commands to be quiet as they walked to the principal's office.

Kalyb's mother, Tomesha Primm, said that's when the officer forcibly pulled her son down the hallway and the handcuffs came out.

"I was just shocked," she said. "I was in disbelief. I was angry."

With the help of the ACLU of Missouri, Primm is now suing the school district, Craddock, and the school's principal at the time, Anne Wallace.

"Imagine as an adult going through something like this," said Gillian Wilcox, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Missouri. "And then imagine as a 7-year-old. I mean, he felt like he was getting arrested."

Wilcox said Kalyb committed no crime, threatened no one and didn't pose any danger, which made the officer's response feel, "completely inappropriate and over the top," she said.

The ACLU's lawsuit is now claiming the child's constitutional rights were violated, by calling the handcuffs excessive force that violate the child's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The lawsuit also calls for the district to make serious policy changes.

"I really want them to acknowledge and be held responsible for their actions, their staff`s actions," said Primm.

Court documents say KCPS spokeswoman Eileen Houston-Stewart once publicly stated that Craddock had followed district protocol and that "[t]here are a number of methods our staff can use, and one of those is using handcuffs, and that's what occurred in this incident."

Thursday, however, a new KCPS district spokeswoman named Natalie Allen declined an interview with FOX 4, saying she cannot comment on pending litigation.

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