DALLAS – A Dallas mother and her attorney are demanding answers after he son was Tased and handcuffed at school, then admitted to a mental health facility for a week without her permission.
April Odis told NBC DFW that her 7-year-old special needs son Yosio Lopez was acting out at Gabe P. Allen Elementary School on May 9 and she was called to pick him up, but before she arrived officials had beat the boy with a baton, shocked him wither a Taser, put him in handcuffs and hauled him away to a mental health facility.
“My son was acting up, which he does every other day. My son was running, which he does every other day. My son was saying absurdities, which he does every other day. And just like every other day, I was called to go and pick him up that morning on a Tuesday morning,” Odis told Fox 4. “When I got there, ‘Where’s my baby?’ ‘Oh, he’s not here.’”
Odis said her son suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other issues and usually has a special person with him at school. But that person wasn’t there last week, and officials responded with force when he acted out, rather than the normal routine of helping him find his “safe place,” Odis’ attorney, David Ramirez, told CNN.
Dallas ISD Police transported Lopez to Dallas Behavioral Hospital and committed him for a week without notifying Odis until afterwards. Odis took a picture of her son at the facility hours later, still in handcuffs, and posted the image online, where it sparked a public backlash.
Once committed to Dallas Behavioral, Odis was barred from seeing her son for the first two days because officials alleged he “posed a danger to himself and those around him,” Ramirez said.
Lopez wasn’t released until the following Monday.
Lopez’s grandmother, Eva Alejandro, told NBC DFW her grandson was left with bruises on his legs from the school officer’s nightstick and marks on his back from the Taser.
“He said, ‘The police laser tagged me at school,’ and he says, ‘My body did this real, real bad,’ and he goes, ‘By the time you knew it I had those handcuffs on my back,'” Alejandro said. “He goes, ‘I couldn’t get out of it, and all I wanted was my mommy.'”
School officials issued a statement about the episode, but refused to discuss details.
“The Dallas Independent School District is committed to educating the whole child each day, and in doing so, we believe in providing a productive learning environment that is safe for all staff and students. While there has been media interest into an alleged incident at one of our Dallas ISD campuses, due to federal confidentiality laws protecting the privacy of all students and their families, we are unable to publicly confirm or deny the matter reported.”
It was a much more muted response than the district’s comments about another violent episode involving school officials manhandling children.
Last Thursday, a Dallas ISD officer was caught on cell phone video body slamming a 12-year-old girl at Piedmont G.L.O.B.A.L. Academy while breaking up a fight between students, NBC DFW reports.
A video of that incident was also posted online and angered a lot of parents, including Alma Valadez, the mother of the girl thrown to the ground. The girl, Mariana, was also pepper-sprayed.
“I was crying because I didn’t know what, how can it happen,” Valadez told the news site.
“The officer came and grabbed me and body slammed me then put the pepper spray,” Mariana said. “He pepper sprayed me in the eyes and I couldn’t open my eyes because it was burning me, the eyes so then they took us to the nurse to put water.”
District officials immediately suspended the officer in that case and launched a full investigation.
“Thursday, May 11 we received information about a social media post circulating of students at Piedmont G.L.O.B.A.L. Academy involved in a physical altercation following dismissal on Wednesday, May 10. The video also captures a Dallas ISD police officer who attempts to end the disruption, however, his actions do not appear to represent the type of response we want our officers to display. The officer has been placed on administrative leave while we conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.”
Valadez is hoping for more.
“I don’t want him being suspended, I want him get fired,” Valadez said. “Why is he still working with kids? He’s not capable of working like that.”