California

Boy with autism handcuffed in cop car after walking out of California school, dad says

A Lancaster, California, father blames school officials after police handcuffed his 11-year-old son, who has autism, KTTV reported. The boy had walked out of school.

“What would have happened to my little boy if before the police got there, in a meltdown state, he’d step in the wrong place or walked into the street and been hit by a car?” asked dad Travis Hibbert, KABC reported.

Hibbert says he doesn’t blame police, who found his son about a mile from his school Monday and took care of him until Hibbert arrived to pick him up, KCAL reported.

“I only know that the officers on scene understood autism, cared for him, looked after him until I got there,” he said, according to the station. Hibbert said he blames school officials for letting his son leave campus in the first place.

Lancaster School District officials called the incident “regrettable,” and said they will continue to work with the family, KABC reported.

“Regrettable? 125-pound, 5-foot 11-year-old special needs child that ends up in handcuffs because of your gross incompetence is not regrettable — that’s abhorrent,” said Hibbert, who attended a school board meeting Tuesday, KTTV reported.

Hibbert posted photos of his son handcuffed in the back of the police cruiser to Facebook, where he wrote that he’s run away from school three times in three weeks.

He also wrote that he plans to run for a seat on the school board.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.
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