In 2014, Kalyb Primm Wiley was 7 years old, weighed about 50 pounds and stood just under 4 feet. But a police officer, assigned to George Melcher Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri, believed that he was enough of a menace that it was necessary to handcuff the crying child. For many, it was another example of why schools should not rely on law enforcement officers to handle noncriminal behavior.
It accuses the officer, principal and Kansas City Public Schools of violating the Kalyb’s constitutional rights against unlawful seizure and excessive force, guaranteed by the 4th and 14th Amendments.
“Setting aside that he was 7-years-old and 50 pounds and no danger to anyone, it is illegal for the government to handcuff and restrain anyone without probable cause that a crime has been committed,” ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert told the Kansas City Star.
According to the lawsuit, a bully was teasing Kalyb during class because of his hearing impediment. Officer Brandon Craddock heard Kalyb crying from the hallway. He entered the classroom and ordered Kalyb to follow him to Principal Anne Wallace’s office.
The officer pulled Kalyb by one arm through the halls. When Kalyb held on to a handrail with his free hand, Craddock twisted the child’s arms and handcuffed him “instead of stopping or employing any de-escalation techniques.”
“This child committed no crime, threatened no one, and posed no danger to anyone,” Rothert said in a statement. “Gratuitously handcuffing children is cowardly and violates the Constitution.”
Kalyb’s mother, Tomesha Primm, made this point in the statement:
“Our children need trained and concerned figures in schools that know how to intervene. It’s not okay to abuse your authority and handcuff kids as a means of discipline. As a parent, I want to make sure no other child – in Kansas City or anywhere else in the country – experiences what my son did.”
Back in 2014, a school district spokesperson called handcuffing one of its methods to control students, The Star reported. Two years later, the district declined the newspaper’s request to respond to the lawsuit, saying it had not been served and does not comment on pending litigation.
Kalyb, now 10, is returning to public school. His mother had decided to home school her son after the incident because he was afraid to return to school.