Dallas Independent School District is under fire after two separate violent incidents in the last week.
Yosio Lopez, a 7-year-old student with special needs, was reportedly handcuffed and tasered by police while at school last Tuesday. According to CNN, police officers were called when Lopez, who suffers from both ADHD and another mood disorder, was banging his head against a wall in class. A trained aide is usually on hand for these incidents, but was not present during the incident. April Obin, Lopez’s mother, was called for assistance, but police intervened before she arrived. Officers restrained Lopez on a desk and cuffed his arms while the school’s principal choked him with her elbow, seemingly in an attempt to restrain him. He was later taken to a mental health facility, where he was kept for almost a week, without his mother’s permission.
Amar Dhillon, an attorney for Lopez family, said officers restraining Lopez beat him with a baton, leaving the child bruised. Dhillon also said officers used a taser to subdue Lopez.
“[They] handcuffed the child and took him away,” Dhillon told CBS, going on to detail Lopez’s account of the incident. “The boy did vividly describe being shocked and his body convulsing,” Dhillon said. “He was very clear about that.”
Dallas ISD initially declined to comment on the incident, later releasing a statement defending the decision:
“The Dallas Independent School District is committed to educating the whole child each day, and in doing so, we believe in providing a productive learning environment that is safe for all staff and students,” the statement read. “While there has been media interest into an alleged incident at one of our Dallas ISD campuses, due to federal confidentiality laws protecting the privacy of all students and their families, we are unable to publicly confirm or deny the matter reported. We stand by our commitment to serve all students and to ensure their health and safety are never compromised as we focus on student achievement.”
The next day, a Dallas ISD police officer body slammed 12-year-old Mariana Valdez at Piedmont G.L.O.B.A.L. Academy. Valdez was reportedly in a fight with another student at the time when the officer grabbed and slammed the child on the ground, in a moment caught on video. According to Valdez, he then pepper sprayed her.
“The officer came and grabbed me and body slammed me then put the pepper spray,” Valdez told NBC. “He pepper sprayed me in the eyes and I couldn’t open my eyes because it was burning me, the eyes so then they took us to the nurse to put water.”
Valdez, who returned to school after a three-day suspension, wound up in the hospital with a clavicle fracture. NBC reported that Valdez’s family says the officer caused the fracture, not the initial fight. Dallas ISD released a statement, noting that the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation is pending.
“[H]is actions do not appear to represent the type of response we want our officers to display,” the statement read.
Images circled online following both incidents, prompting outcry from social media users.
School police tased, handcuffed and arrested a 7 y/o Latinx boy with ADHD for banging his head against the wall. https://t.co/MYAXuAQgzz
— Alexis Isabel (@lexi4prez) May 18, 2017
#JusticeForYosioLopez What's happening in Dallas? 7 yr old w/spec.needs handcuffed. 12 yr old girl body slammed & injured by school police 😠
— anne jones (@annejon03500536) May 18, 2017
— Marquis Hawkins (@Hawkins4Dallas) May 16, 2017
The Lopez family has accused officers of using extreme force while subduing their child. Alma Valdez, meanwhile, wants the officer who body-slammed her daughter to be fired.
“I don’t want him being suspended, I want him get fired,” Valadez told NBC. “Why is he still working with kids? He’s not capable of working like that.” In a separate comment to CBS she also emphasized the size difference between the officer and her daughter. “It makes me mad, angry. She’s 12 years old. She weighs 100 pounds. He should be fired.”