ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – An attorney says he plans legal action against police officers who handcuffed an unruly 5-year-old girl after she acted up in her kindergarten class.
A video camera, which was rolling March 14 as part of a classroom self-improvement exercise, captured images of the girl tearing papers off a bulletin board, climbing on a table and punching an assistant principal before police were called to Fairmount Park Elementary.
Then it shows the child appearing to calm down before three officers approach, pin her arms behind her back and put on handcuffs as she screams, "No!"
Largo lawyer John Trevena (search), who provided the tape to the media this week after obtaining it from police, says the officers went too far.
"The image itself will be seared into people's minds when you have three police officers bending a child over a table and forcibly handcuffing her," said Trevena, who represents the girl's mother, Inga Akins. "It's incomprehensible ... There was no need for that."
Police declined to comment, citing an official complaint by Akins that has sparked an investigation by the supervisor of the four officers who were present. Two are new officers who were being trained that day.
Spokesman Bill Proffitt said the investigation would be complete in about two weeks and the findings would be made public.
The 30-minute tape shows assistant principal Nicole Dibenedetto trying repeatedly to calm down the girl, who ignores her commands and begins punching her. The child's mother was called but wasn't able to immediately come to the school.
After being placed in the back of a police cruiser, police released the girl to her mother after prosecutors informed them they wouldn't bring charges against a 5-year-old.