Autistic boy, 7, 'handcuffed and pinned to floor by cop who threatened to charge him with crime for spitting'

Autistic boy, 7, 'handcuffed and pinned to floor by cop who threatened to charge him with crime for spitting'

October 14, 2020

AN AUTISTIC boy was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a school resource officer who threatened to charge him for spitting.

Bodycam footage shows the boy being restrained with his hands behind his back at Pressly Alternative School in Statesville, North Carolina, in September 2018.

The school officer, identified as Statesville cop Michael Fattaleh, was responding to a call from school staff about the seven-year-old child spitting, WSOC-TV reported last week.

In footage of the incident, Fattaleh can be heard telling the young boy: "Spit on me and I'll put a hood on you.”

This is most likely referring to a “spit hood” – which law enforcement agencies use to prevent suspects from spitting at them, or biting them, while being arrested.

The boy was placed in handcuffs and was seen laying on his stomach on the floor during the incident in 2018. 

School staff put a pillow under the boy’s face and took off his glasses while Fattaleh asked the child if he could breathe. 

The school resource officer then went on to tell the child: "If you, my friend, are not acquainted with the juvenile justice system, you will be very shortly.”

"You ever been charged with a crime before? Well, you're fixing to be."

As seen in the video, Fattaleh can be seen restraining the child by holding his arms behind his back. 

At one point, the cop asked the boy if he ever “heard the term babysitter” to which then said: “I take that term literally, my friend.”

But WSOC notes that Fattaleh asked as he restrained the boy if he was too hot or warm, to see if he was OK.

Roughly 25 minutes after being held down, minutes before his mom got to the school, the boy starts to cry and screams for Fattaleh to get away from him. 

When the mom arrived, Fattaleh told her the autistic child “is going to be charged with one count of assault, maybe two.”

The mom, who is asking for her name to be withheld for privacy reasons, said she was angry and upset about what happened.

She said her child has “pretty severe separation anxiety.”

The mom told the news outlet that the officer “was basically torturing my son” and said as her boy was cuffed on the ground, the cop and school staff “talked about the upcoming hurricane, the effects of that and football."

The mom’s attorney, Alex Horey, has since filed a lawsuit against Fattaleh, the city of Statesville, and the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education.

The suit was filed last Friday in the US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, per The Washington Post. 

Heroy told the Post earlier this week: “It is incomprehensible to me that anyone would think this response is appropriate and necessary.”

“You don’t need to put metal handcuffs on a 7-year-old and pin them down and turn their arm.”

An attorney for Statesville told The Sun on Wednesday that Fattaleh has resigned from the police department – and the child was not charged with any crimes. 

The school district, which did not immediately return The Sun’s request for comment, said in a statement to the Post: “We strive to evaluate our processes and improve every day.”

“We are eager to work with community agencies and partners to provide the best environment possible for every student.”

The city said they released the bodycamera footage after a petition from a WSOC news reporter.

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