GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Public Schools are investigating after a mother said her 11-year-old son was handcuffed and slapped by a school security officer.
“I’m mad,” mother Lawanda Bryant told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “I’m trying to keep it together, but this is my baby, this is my child. You don’t put hands on kids.”
The district acknowledged that the child was put in handcuffs, but said it is still unclear if an assault occurred. Grand Rapids police conducted its own investigation, which has been passed along to the prosecutor’s office, which will decide what, if any, charges are appropriate.
Bryant said she is worried about backlash for speaking out, but that she doesn’t want the incident to get swept under the rug.
“He (my son) was like, ‘He (the school security officer) slammed me down to the ground,’ had his knee in the back of his neck — like had his whole body weight on him to the point where he was like, ‘Mom, I thought I was going to go the bathroom on myself,'” Bryant said.
Two weeks ago, she said, she received a call from Westwood Middle School saying that she needed to get there because her son was handcuffed. She says she rushed there to find her son in a locked room, still cuffed.
“To see that smack; the handprint on his face, that was the tipping point,” Bryant said.
She snapped a picture. It’s poor quality, but she says the imprint was clear in person. She added that there is no other explanation for how it got there.
She also said she got an unclear answer when she asked why he was cuffed.
“It went from, ‘Well, I felt verbally threatened,’ to ‘Well, I thought he was going to charge at me.’ I never got a straight answer,” she said.
Her son is 4-foot-11 and 145 pounds. She said the security officer is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds.
“At what point did you feel so threatened that you had to literally slam my 11-year-old son to the ground and handcuff him?” she wondered of the officer.
She’s worried about how this will affect her son in the future, saying she has already seen changes in his behavior.
“These are kids. If we don’t stick up for our kids, then who else will?” she said.
She said her son has been moved to a different GRPS school.
The district says it cannot comment on an open investigation. The security officer is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is expected to be completed this week.