Lawsuit: Deputy used stun gun on autistic boy
Shreveport, La. – A federal lawsuit alleges that a Louisiana sheriff’s deputy on school duty shocked a non-verbal, autistic 10th-grader with a stun gun, then left him lying in his own urine until an emergency crew arrived 13 minutes later.
The boy has been afraid even to let his family go out of a room without him since the incident last Aug. 31, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 1 in Shreveport against Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator.
The lawsuit alleges that deputies patrolling schools had little to no training on handling people with disabilities until about a month after the alleged incident.
The boy’s mother, Rosie Philips, didn’t sue the deputy or the school board because she’s trying to correct problems behind the alleged incident, attorney Garret DeReus of New Orleans said Thursday.
Prator declined to comment on the lawsuit, The Times of Shreveport reported. “But I can say that we are always seeking ways to improve. As we strive to be the best law-enforcement agency around,” he added.
On Aug. 31, 2017, the boy, identified only as “J.H.,” had been enrolled for 14 days in a program for children with severe autism at Northwood High School in Shreveport. The lawsuit does not give his age; DeReus said in an email only that he was a minor at the time.
He had no previous history of discipline, physical restraint or corporal punishment at school, according to the suit.
Shortly after he arrived at school Aug. 31, a staffer may have asked him to stop rubbing his stomach against a wall, according to the suit.
The boy became agitated, though it’s not clear why, and began walking in and out of his classroom. That led to a confrontation and struggle involving school administrators and the deputy.
J.H. kicked toward an administrator and the deputy fired the stun gun, according to the lawsuit.
J.H. urinated on himself and did not move, but the deputy made no effort to check his condition, according to the lawsuit.
Philips is asking compensation for her son’s “serious emotional distress, trauma, anxiety, fear, depression, and invasion of his civil rights,” and for “nominal damages” to deter the sheriff’s office from future discrimination against people with autism.