Police officer used excessive force in handcuffing 9-year-old, lawsuit says
SALT LAKE CITY — A 9-year-old boy suffered a broken collarbone while being restrained and handcuffed by a Sandy police officer after an incident at school, his grandparents say in a federal lawsuit.
Craig and Britt Hawker claim officer Tina Marie Albrand used excessive force while attempting to get their grandson to stand up and answer questions about an iPad he stole from Bell View Elementary School last August.
Albrand grabbed the boy and placed him in a "lock twist" to get him to stand, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. When he began to kick and scream, she forced him against a wall and handcuffed him.
"In her report, officer Albrand claims that (the boy) grabbed for and took hold of her weapon, but the assertion is false and no other witnesses made that assertion," the suit says.
The boy later complained of arm and shoulder pain. Britt Hawker, who along with her husband is his legal guardian, took him to see a doctor who treated him for a fractured collarbone.
Craig Hawker said Tuesday his attorney, Greg Stevens, advised him to not talk to the media.
According to the lawsuit, the boy took an iPad home from school on Aug. 30. The principal saw him in the hall with the device the next day and confronted him. The boy ran away but was located and became aggressive, according to the suit.
Several teachers put him in a "Mandt hold," which involves holding his arms and legs. The teachers restrained him without hurting him or themselves, the suit says. The school contacted Britt Hawker and the boy calmed down when she arrived. Albrand arrived about 10 minutes later.
Albrand's attorney Peter Stirba said police were called because the teachers were not able to handle the situation and the officer did nothing wrong.
"The student, albeit 9 years old, was out of control and unruly. A modicum of physical force had to be used," he said. "The officer was fully justified in what she did."
Stirba said someone reaching for an officer's gun always causes serious concern in any physical altercation. He said he's confident Albrand will be vindicated.
According to the suit, the principal apologized to Britt Hawker for how Albrand treated her grandson. The principal also told Albrand that the officer's "aggression and use of excessive force was uncalled for and that she had no right to manhandle (the boy) or treat him that way."
"Officer Albrand said that she had every right to handle him as she saw fit," the lawsuit says.
Stevens said the boy has seen the police officer at school since and remains fearful of her and "pretty much anybody in uniform." As result of the incident, he suffers general anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and is taking medication, he said.
In addition to Albrand, the suit names Sandy City as a defendant. It seeks at least $1.2 million in physical, emotional and punitive damages.
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