By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The mother of a boy who was arrested at his Key West elementary school is now filing a civil lawsuit.

The arrest of the child happened back in December of 2018 at Gerald Adams Elementary, but police body camera footage of the arrest has recently received nationwide attention.

Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Devon Jacob, who are also representing the family of George Floyd, announced the lawsuit in a virtual press conference Tuesday.

According to the complaint filed, the defendants include the City of Key West, the Monroe County School district, three Key West Police officers, and three school officials.

In the body camera video, the boy is sitting in a chair in the hall with his head down. One officer pats him down, puts handcuffs on him, and leads him out to a police car.

Crump says the child proceeded to be fingerprinted, have his DNA swabbed, his mugshot taken, and even sat in a jail cell.

“In the video, the officer says ‘the handcuffs won’t fit’,” Crump said. “Is that not enough to break your heart? To make you stop and say this is something terribly wrong we are doing because we don’t have handcuffs for little kids? At that point, that should have triggered something in your mind—in your moral code—that this isn’t right.”

Crump said the boy, who is not being named, was having a mental health episode on that day.

The boy’s mother said her son has severe oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. She says the school was aware of his diagnoses and had implemented a Behavioral Intervention Plan for him.

According to the complaint, a teacher instructed the boy to sit on a bench properly. This teacher said she went to physically move him, and the boy told her not to put her hands on him. When she tried to move him, he punched her once in the chest.

The child, according to the complaint, was 8-years old, 64 pounds, and 3’6” at the time of the incident.

He was charged with felony battery.

The boy’s mother said it took her almost a year of legal battles to ultimately get the charge dropped against her son.

CBS 4 reached out to the Key West Police Department, the City, and the Monroe County school board for comment on the lawsuit.

Each said they could not comment on open litigation.

Karli Barnett

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