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Parents of Autistic Boy Sue Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The parents of an autistic, 7-year-old Mary Ann Binford student are suing the school police officer who handcuffed him to a chair at the school last month.

The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday, names Albuquerque Public Schools police officer Xiomara Sanchez, as the sole defendant. It claims Sanchez violated the boy’s civil rights with an unlawful arrest, excessive force and unlawful seizure.

“Any objectively reasonable officer knew or should have known that it was excessive force to use handcuffs on an autistic seven year old boy …. (he) obviously lacked the mental capacity to commit a delinquent act,” said the suit, filed in 2nd Judicial District Court by The Kennedy Law Firm.

Sanchez on Nov. 14 handcuffed the second-grade student after he was violent with staff and then her, according to APS reports. Sanchez was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation because she failed to call her supervisor, as required, when she could not get the situation under control, APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta has said. Sanchez is still on leave.

The suit described the boy as “both very bright and autistic.” He was “hypo-sensitive to movement in the classroom, placing his hands over his ears and not responding well to sudden changes in his routine.”

An APS report said problems with the boy started about 10:30 a.m. when he began acting up in class and calling his peers names.

The incident escalated when he began running around the school, threatening to leave campus and finally locking himself in a bathroom. The school called his parents and APS police officers. The boy eventually left the bathroom and ran into a classroom where he threw over school chairs, kicked and punched the social workers and spit on the floor, the report said.

When the officer arrived, she tried to calm him but he shot rubber bands at her and kicked her when she approached him. Sanchez placed him in handcuffs after she warned him to stop and he did not.

The suit says state law requires that those who work with disabled children “progress from the least to the most restrictive situations of detaining children.”

The boy’s mother, Maria Quesada, has said she gave school personnel permission to restrain her son, but she did not expect them to use handcuffs.

The boy was charged with battery upon a school employee and battery upon a peace officer.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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