8-year-old special needs student handcuffed, arrested for tantrum at school

KSDK - A Illinois police department is standing behind its decision to arrest an 8-year-old special needs student...

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(KSDK) – A Illinois police department is standing behind its decision to arrest an 8-year-old special needs student.

The girl was handcuffed at her Alton school on Tuesday. Her guardian says he’s outraged his daughter was treated like a criminal.

8-year-old Jmiyha Rickman was hauled off in the back of a police car from school to the Alton Police Department and was held for nearly two hours.

Police say they had no choice after Rickman took a swing at a school resource officer and tore up two classrooms.

Her guardian says the situation could have been handled better.

“I trusted the school to give her the adequate treatment and care she deserves and they failed us,” said Nehemiah Keeton, Rickman’s uncle and guardian.

Keeton says Rickman is autistic and suffers from separation anxiety and depression.

On Tuesday morning, he got a phone call from Love Joy Elementary School in Alton to pick her up because she was having a tantrum.  He says this has happened several times before.

Keeton was on his way to the school when he got a phone call from police saying Rickman was in custody.

Rickman says her hands and feet were handcuffed and had a belt around her waist.

Officials with the Alton School District say they cannot comment on this specific case because of the Illinois Student Records Act, but say when dealing with situations like this, first the school resource officer gets involved, then a parent is contacted.  If the parent cannot be reached or cannot come to school, that’s when they contact police.

“Every time they have ever called me I have always responded that’s why I did not understand why did they had to go to that extreme to dial 911 they knew I was coming,” Keeton said  “To have know that her feet, her hands, and her waist was cuffed, she was shackled.  I feel like they went about and beyond.”

Alton police say they believe the officer acted accordingly. Captain Scott Waldrup says Alton Police officers use great caution before restraining a child, but in this case he says the officer had no choice.

“I will tell you in this particular case it was necessary to protect that child by restraining that child,” said Captain Waldrup.

Keeton says Rickman will be homeschooled until he figures out where he wants to send her to school.