A Maryland family has been awarded $275,000 after a five-year-old boy who ran away from school was referred to as a “shepherd for the devil” along with other insults and handcuffed by police, per the Washington Post.
Nearly hour-long body camera footage released last year showed Montgomery County police officers Kevin Christmon and Dionne Holliday verbally attacking and restraining a kindergartener at East Silver Spring Elementary School in January of 2020.
The incident began when the five-year-old fled from school, and an administrator called police to help locate the child.
Officers Christmon and Holliday responded to the call and found the boy, but once they brought him back to school they repeatedly berated him for running away.
Video of the incident shows the officers first approaching the kindergarten student in a neighborhood and questioning him about his behavior.
Christmon asks the five-year-old, "Are you 18?" before grabbing his wrists.
Per the video, the boy sobs and says "I don't want to go," as he is put in the back of a police vehicle.
“I don’t care!” Christmon responds. “You don’t make that decision for yourself.”
In the footage, the officers continue to shout at the boy, condemning him for running away from school.
“I don’t like bad children. Disrespectful children, I think they need to be beaten. I hope she beats you when you go home because you deserve it for your actions today. You were horrible,” Holliday says in the video.
At one point during the video, the officers can be heard calling the boy a “shepherd for the devil” and “little beast,” per the Post.
Both officers defended their actions following the incident.
“I really do think that my actions were appropriate at the time,” Christmon said, claiming his actions were justified because the child "seemed defiant and headstrong about not wanting to return to school,” per the Post.
According to AP News, Shanta Grant, the boy's mother, said officers treated her son “as if he were a hardened criminal."
Lawyers representing the family said in court filings that Christmon and Holliday's actions were “way past the line of emotional child abuse."
As a result of the incident, the two Montgomery County officers have been suspended without pay.
The $275,000 settlement will be kept in a trust fund that the five-year-old will have access to once he turns 18, according to reports.