Police Pinned 10-year-old Boy With Autism Using a Knee on His Neck, Lawsuit Alleges

A 10-year-old boy with autism was pinned to the ground in Massachusetts by police officers who put their knees on his neck and legs, a lawsuit has alleged.

Lindsey Beshai Torres recently filed the lawsuit against the city of Worcester and the two officers involved in the incident on September 2017, news website MassLive reported.

The lawsuit alleges the officers, identified as John Alers and Paul McCarthy, used excessive force and lied in their reports about what occurred.

According to MassLive, the lawsuit says that Beshai Torres had been driving her children to school when her son, identified only as JT, got angry and threw a plastic drink bottle at the dashboard.

She called 911 seeking help to calm JT and was told by a dispatcher that an ambulance was on the way.

Beshai Torres told her son he would be able to see a doctor soon, but Alers and McCarthy arrived on the scene before the ambulance.

According to the suit, Beshai Torres told the officers that her son had autism and asked them to deal with him calmly. McCarthy had interacted with the boy before and knew of his diagnosis, the suit said.

When the officers tried to speak to the boy, he threw a small bag of chips at them, but the bag did not hit either of the officers and landed on the ground, according to the suit.

It was clear the officers should not alarm or upset the boy, the suit adds, and there "was no need" for them to touch or detain him.

But the officers then dragged the boy from the car, pinned him to the ground and kept his arms behind his back as he screamed, the lawsuit said.

McCarthy had a knee on JT's neck while Alers had a knee on the boy's legs and they stayed like that for several minutes, according to the suit.

The use of such restraints by officers came under increased scrutiny this year after the police killing of George Floyd, in Minneapolis. Floyd's death after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes as he struggled for air sparked massive protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

According to the suit, filed in federal court by Beshai Torres through her attorneys, the encounter with the officers in 2017 left JT with a broken bone in his right arm and he required surgery. The injury cost the family more than $23,000 in medical bills, the suit said.

Furthermore, it added that the boy has since developed severe depression, anxiety and a fear of traveling in cars.

The lawsuit also alleges that the officers involved in the incident falsified their police reports.

Beshai Torres reputedly told officers with the Worcester Police Department Bureau of Professional Standards in 2018 that she wanted officers trained on how to deal with children with autism, but according to the suit, that training never happened.

An attorney representing Beshai Torres, the Worcester city attorney's office and the Worcester Police Department have been contacted for comment.

BLM
People hold signs during a protest against police brutality in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 4, 2020. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images