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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Lawsuit over seven-year-old handcuffed by Flint Police settled

Chrystal McCadden stands next to a photo showing her son in handcuffs.
Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

The ACLU of Michigan has settled a lawsuit with the Flint Police Department and an after-school program run by the Flint-Genesee Chamber of Commerce.

The lawsuit stemmed from a 2015 incident where Cameron McCadden, a seven-year-old boy with ADHD, was handcuffed by police for nearly an hour after having what witnesses described as a childhood tantrum at the after-school program.

Mark Fancher, a staff attorney with the ACLU, said he’s “greatly encouraged” by the settlement, which involves both the police and day care program making policy changes to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

“To the extent that the police have recognized that they have a particular role to play, and it is not the role that is more appropriately played by educators and other professionals, that is a very good thing,” Fancher said. “We hope other police departments will follow suit.”

Those changes include not using physical restraints on a child except as a last resort, Fancher said. “They also have agreed that they will not call upon police officers to become involved unless there is some kind of imminent danger posed by a child,” he said.

Other changes agreed upon in the settlement on the day care’s end include requiring documentation of physical restraints and notifications to parents, and staff training regarding disabilities.

On the Flint Police Department’s end, the department is now required to try every alternative possible, including de-escalation, before arresting or restraining juveniles; using the lowest level of enforcement possible for elementary-school aged children; and no arrests or restraints used on elementary school-aged children.

The settlement also has a “monetary element,” which is a trust fund set up to meet the needs of Cameron, now aged 12, Fancher said.

Fancher said Cameron is doing relatively well now, but this incident left a “lasting emotional mark,” he said.

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