Jmyha Rickman, an autistic eight-year-old from Alton, Ill., was arrested and taken to jail, where she stayed for two hours Tuesday afternoon.
Police stated that her school, Love Joy Elementary, called them after complaining that Rickman was being disorderly and having temper tantrums and trashed two classrooms.
Though she is only 8 years old, Alton police are defending their decision to handcuff the young student.
"I will tell you in this particular case it was necessary to protect that child by restraining that child," Captain Scott Waldrup told NBC affiliate KSDK.
Alton police not only handcuffed Rickman, but also cuffed her feet. Her guardian, Neheniah Keeton, complained about their course of action.
“Her eyes were swollen from her crying, and her wrists had welts on them,” Keeton said. “They cuffed her feet too, and she asked to use the restroom several times and was ignored.”
"I feel like if you can't handle an 8-year-old child without calling the police to put fear in them like my child, you don't need to work with kids. I trusted the school to give her the adequate treatment and care she deserves, and they failed us," Keeton told KSDK News.
Keeton also said that, in addition to being autistic, Rickman suffers from separation anxiety and now is afraid to go back to Love Joy.
"Every time they have ever called me, I have always responded; that's why I did not understand why did they have to go to that extreme to dial 911. They knew I was coming. To have to know that her feet, her hands and her waist was cuffed, she was shackled. I feel like they went above and beyond."
The assistant superintendent of the Alton School District refused to comment on Rickman’s case, telling the Daily Mail she could not comment on specifics of the incident, citing Illinois privacy laws regarding children. However, she outlined school district policy, which says that if a student is at risk of harming themselves or others, police would be called if the child’s parent or guardian refuses to pick them up.”
Keeton has decided to home-school Rickman until she is placed in a new school.
Watch Rickman talk about the incident below:
Amethyst Tate graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College with a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology. During her time at IBT, her articles have been sourced by various...