Family sues after third grader is put in handcuffs

April 3, 2011 7:45:18 AM PDT
The family of a girl in the Bronx has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD after a class room fight ended up with her in handcuffs.

The girl was 10 years old at the time and her lawyer says she went through what no child should be forced to experience.

The 42nd Precinct in the South Bronx has seen its share of hardened criminals, violent offenders and drug dealers.

And then there is Sofia Bautista.

She may not look like much of a threat, but last April she says three police officers pulled her out of P.S. 132, handcuffed her tiny wrists behind her back and brought her back to the precinct for an interrogation as she was separated from her panicked mother.

The incident was the result of a fight with a classmate in the third grade.

Nobody was seriously hurt in the fight and there are no accusations that any weapon was produced, but Bautista soon found herself being taken away by police.

Speaking in Spanish, her mother says she kept asking to be allowed to be with her daughter as police questioned Sofia, but instead Sofia's mother says she was told to wait in the lobby and if she kept complaining she would be removed from the precinct altogether.

A spokesman from the police department says the girl's mother was allowed to see her daughter, but the mother says it was only briefly and then they were separated.

A spokesman for the NYPD says the girl was not interrogated, but the lawyer for the Bautistas is suing the police for doing just that and outside the presence of her mother, which is against police policy

The lawyer is suing for an unspecified amount. Police issued Bautista a juvenile report, which does not require a court appearance. It is removed from her records when she becomes an adult.