$337,000 Settlement Headed To Elementary School Students Handcuffed By School Resource Officers

from the insurance-premium-increases-will-also-be-paid-for-by-taxpayers dept

Putting cops in schools often turns routine disciplinary issues into police matters. That's a problem. Cops -- given the friendly-spin title of "school resource officers" -- have a limited tool set for handling discipline. It involves shows of authority, deployments of force, and, in this case, adult handcuffs clamped onto an 8-year-old's upper arms. Tiny wrists can't be secured by adult cuffs, so up the arm they go until they more resemble an instrument of torture than a restraint device.

This cuffing was performed by Deputy Kevin Sumner of the Kenton County (KY) Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's Department claimed the deputy followed policy, but could not produce any policy relevant to the handcuffing of small children. Experts on force/restraint deployment said this cuffing didn't follow any protocol they were aware of. Sheriff Korzenborn insisted (without any evidence) this technique was proper and testified he did not order retraining of officers in child-restraint techniques following the incident.

Last year, a federal court declared this handcuffing to be excessive force. It pointed out the alleged "crime" did not justify the force deployed and, even if it had, the force used was far in excess of what was needed.

Applying the Graham factors, the severity of the “crime” committed by S.R. and L.G. — assault — weighs in their favor. While S.R. kicked a teacher and L.G. tried to and/or did hit a teacher, these are very young children, and their conduct does not call to mind the type of “assault” which would warrant criminal prosecution. Indeed, Sumner testified that “none of what they did was worthy of trying to file a criminal charge.”

The second factor, whether the children posed an immediate threat to themselves or others, weighs in S.R.’s favor. At the time he was handcuffed, S.R. had largely calmed down, Sumner had escorted him to the restroom without incident, and they had returned to the office. While Sumner testified that S.R. swung his elbow towards Sumner, such can hardly be considered a serious physical threat from an unarmed, 54-pound eight-year-old child.

A little over a year later, the two elementary school students will be receiving a payout from Kenton County taxpayers.

On Thursday, a sheriff’s office in Kentucky has agreed to pay more than $337,000 for the painful and unconstitutional handcuffing of elementary school students with disabilities. The two plaintiffs, both of whom were children of color and both of whom have disabilities, were so small that the deputy sheriff locked the handcuffs around the children’s biceps, forcing their hands behind their backs.

Despite the ruling and the settlement agreement, Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn remains unrepentant. He views this settlement as a cowardly capitulation by the company fronting the money for his deputy's misconduct.

In a statement released Nov. 5, Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn said he "never signed off or agreed to settle."

"My understanding is that the insurance company viewed that it was less expensive to settle the case than to continue defending it," he said.

Korzenborn also noted that the settlement came without "any admission of liability" on behalf of the sheriff's office.

Handcuffing children and causing this sort of reaction is just good school policing, according to the sheriff.

After the handcuffings, both children had repeated nightmares, started bed-wetting, and would not let their mothers out of their sight. Both families left the school district, and moved to areas where their children could receive the treatment and accommodations they needed.

This is what the sheriff considers to be a worthwhile punishment for an 8-year-old student who tried to punch his deputy in the arm: a painful, unconstitutional handcuffing followed by a few years of nightmares and family upheaval. It will happen again because Korzenborn believes he -- not the law, not policies, and not the federal court -- is right. He's a law unto himself, and that makes things dangerous for students in the county's schools. And he's a walking advertisement for personal indemnification.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Poo Lees, 19 Nov 2018 @ 7:51pm

    HOO! Masnick CHEERS for pirate brats.

    Perhaps Mikey thinks running these anti-authority hit pieces on police will get me to leave. Well, I WON'T! TMy guess is Shiva destroys this site before the year ends. You heard me, minions! I said that 2018 will be Techdirt's LAST year. I will deepthroat a chainsaw if I'm wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 19 Nov 2018 @ 8:11pm

    Free cash

    I'd like to be handcuffed too, please.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 7:13am

      Re: Free cash

      Yeah, we thought you were about 8 years old.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Pixelation, 20 Nov 2018 @ 12:58pm

        Re: Re: Free cash

        My wife disagrees. She says 5 yrs old.

        I wonder if the kids will get the money or does it go to the parents/guardians?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 2:38am

          Re: Re: Re: Free cash

          Sum should have been sufficient for college fund and to send those kids affected to private schools.

          This is a very sad incident. Do we even know if this sheriff is human?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 8:12pm

    Fair is Fair

    Since the Sherrif sees no problems with people being in those positions, I think locking him up like that during his trial on human rights violations would be fair.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 8:22pm

    Cool tech story, bro.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 19 Nov 2018 @ 9:36pm

      Re:

      Thank you for taking time out your busy schedule of complaining to the New York Times for publishing anything that isn't the current time in New York to leave that comment here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 1:29am

        Re: Re:

        Seems to be a trend. Not only here, but I've spotted a few times where people were whining about non-tech stories being written about on other sites I visit recently. A few of them from new accounts mysteriously making their very first ever comment, about how they will never read the site again because they're bored of non-tech stories (the lack of AC posting on some other sites ensuring they essentially have to announce they're lying)..

        I wonder if it's the same group of nut jobs who post here, or some weird trend of trying to distract people from talking about wider social issues on tech sites. If the latter, it's certainly not working.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    R1V37H34D (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 12:09am

    Judge Dredd

    Reminds me of Judge Dredd...I AM THE LAW...oh..is this what the USofA is heading to???...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 9:05am

      Re: Judge Dredd

      Objection, Judge Dredd actually respects the law, and would never do something like this unless it was explicitly in the law and required by it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Jess Passin, 20 Nov 2018 @ 6:00pm

      Re: Hello dere "R1V37H34D"!

      Back for a second comment already!

      "You" have a 20 month gap to first Feb 14th, 2017. Long gaps (18-20 months) after first and only comment are frequent. My opinion is that the Zombie Master considers that sufficient time to conclude the account has been forgotten, and resurrects them.

      Again, doubters: I have a list and you don't. Another thing remarkable about "R1V37H34D" is that it's the ONLY new account I have listed for February 2017. (While I may have missed others, have several from January and March.) You, however, cannot argue with facts, only assert your belief that all these ODD examples don't add up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 1:44am

    Yet another example of how 'MURICA is great.
    Settlement money fixes everything. No need to learn any lessons about life or something.
    They should at the least have the balls to apologize.

    Also, $150k for that?

    "Professional Entertainers" can be happy to get a hundred bucks extra for wearing an armbinder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      Also, $150k for that?

      "Professional Entertainers" can be happy to get a hundred bucks extra for wearing an armbinder.

      Well, "professional entertainers" aren't disabled 8-year-old children. There are some things that are slightly worse when done to kids.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 5:30am

      Re:

      Settlements exist to avoid apologies. The two are, by definition, mutually exclusive.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Dan, 20 Nov 2018 @ 6:07am

        Re: Re:

        Settlements and apologies are in no way mutually exclusive. A settlement agreement will usually state that nobody is admitting liability or wrongdoing, but that's by no means required--it's perfectly valid for an agreement to read something like, "the parties agree that A is liable, and A agrees to pay B $100k" or whatever. Rare to be sure, but certainly not "by definition, mutually exclusive."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 6:25am

      Re:

      Apologize? The system worked just the way they want.

      Both families left the school district,

      See? Problem solved! ;)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 2:22am

    Wow. Add being a competent parent to being a police authority. Somethings are so hard to dome people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    shubhi agarwal, 20 Nov 2018 @ 3:04am

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    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 4:29am

    After all...

    Those kids ain't gonna hancuff themselfs is they?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 20 Nov 2018 @ 5:06am

    what about personal liability?

    The biggest problem with this settlement is that there are no repercussions for those actually responsible. The miscreants get to pay for their actions with ordinary citizens' wallets. From the sheriff's tone, we can expect this sort of misbehavior to repeat until he and his subordinates get a dope-slap that really hurts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Valkor, 20 Nov 2018 @ 1:40pm

      Re: what about personal liability?

      Personal liability, meet community involvement.

      Every parent in the Covington school district should have been at the School Board meetings until the district admitted that Elementary schools DON'T need cops on patrol, and changed policy unambiguously and loudly. Follow up with less cops and more counselors, so that they can use de-escalation tactics that are suited to children, not criminals.

      Every resident of Kenton County should have been at the meetings where their County Commissioners (or whoever is in charge, since there appears to be a Kenton County Police and a Kenton County Sheriff, for some reason) discussed the county Sheriff's department, until the Sheriff declared that no officer who felt threatened by an 8-year-old was suitable to be an actual police officer. Follow up with actual *documented* training and actual *documented* accountability. (I know, I'm dreaming.)

      No situation that ends like this is ever simple, but surely everyone can agree not to make it worse by the actions of people who need others to "respect my authoritah". We have the TECHNOLOGY to see this kind of nonsense in action, we have the TECHNOLOGY to participate in our local government more easily than ever, and we have the TECHNOLOGY to communicate with our public servants more than ever. We can't fix someone else's county, but we can fix our own.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 7:58pm

        Re: Re: what about personal liability?

        These cops at school should be facing outward juxtapposed against possible threats from outside the school if they are necessary at all, not being used for matters school administration should handle.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 5:53am

    if you don't, they will

    Properly love and discipline your own children, or else Mr. Charlie (the local jailer) will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 6:22am

    A reasonable solution

    Perhaps school administrators and police can work out a reasonable solution such as:

    * child sized hand cuffs
    * child appropriate tasers
    * flavored pepper spray
    * child sized detention cells

    By having tools that are specifically designed for children, they could eliminate any inhibition that police and administrators have in using these tools.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 8:51am

    "

    In a statement released Nov. 5, Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn said he "never signed off or agreed to settle."

    "My understanding is that the insurance company viewed that it was less expensive to settle the case than to continue defending it," he said.

    Korzenborn also noted that the settlement came without "any admission of liability" on behalf of the sheriff's office."

    You didn't agree to settle because you can't see anything wrong with what your officer did to a CHILD. Such fear from a child, perhaps your officers all need to be let go if an 8 yr old presents such a threat to them.

    Yes settlement was cheaper because the insurance company knew how many 0's were going to be attached to the eventual settlement paid out to make up for your failure.

    No admission of liability???
    Did you think we needed that?
    THEY CUFFED 8 YR OLD CHILDREN!!
    The justification was a thrown elbow??

    You need to be run out of office on a rail, the fact you are 10000% behind your idiot officers & refused to have a course saying don't abuse 8 yr olds should have the community TERRIFIED!
    If you are willing to back this play how far are we from you standing before cameras saying the 90 yr old woman deserved being shot because she kept jay walking across the street so the officers, in fer for their safety, shot her 30 times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 9:16am

    'You want to defend him? It's on YOUR dime.'

    In a statement released Nov. 5, Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn said he "never signed off or agreed to settle."

    Ah the empty boasting of a bully. 'I totally would have beat you, but my mom told me I couldn't. Count yourself lucky that she held me back from giving you what you deserve.'

    "My understanding is that the insurance company viewed that it was less expensive to settle the case than to continue defending it," he said.

    Rather than settle the insurance agency should have started from the outset by stating that the actions involved were not covered by the insurance, and if the department wants to fight it they are going to be paying the bills, and any settlements/fines personally. I suspect his bravado about how it's cowardly to settle would magically vanish at that point.

    Korzenborn also noted that the settlement came without "any admission of liability" on behalf of the sheriff's office.

    Of course it didn't, because you still don't believe that your cowardly baby in a uniform did anything wrong. Why, that kung-foo master of a child might have left a bruise, he clearly had to be restrained for the good of everyone!

    Given even now the thugs with badges refuse to admit wrongdoing if anyone in administration of the school has even the slightest shred of intelligence they'll give said thugs the boot post-haste, because if they keep them on it's not 'will this happen again?' but 'how soon will it happen again?'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 9:23am

    I looks like this ass-hat sheriff got reelected by a landslide. So the vetoing people of Kenton County Like the idea of their kids being handcuffed and then paying the increased county insurance liability premiums that are sure to follow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Philly Bob, 20 Nov 2018 @ 9:51am

    I can see these kids growing up now with a hatred that could drive them to the dark side.
    Meet your new neighbor...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 8:35am

    Coddling unruly kids is not the proper response. The kid in this article was dealt with properly, but monetizing complaining about this type of thing is going to lead to a total and complete inability of schools to do anything about unruly students. The unruly students already realize that they have the upper hand and this sends us further down that rabbit hole. Society needs to act aggressively against this trend and start holding unruly students responsible for their bad behavior instead of rewarding it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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