A young Missouri special needs student was arrested and held in a police car for nearly two hours earlier this week, prompting criticism and outrage from the girl’s parents. Officers from the Alton Police Department placed 8-year-old Jmiya Rickman in handcuffs after she threw a temper tantrum at Love Joy Elementary School. Rickman, who is autistic, allegedly attacked a school resource officer, and tore up a pair of classrooms on Tuesday.
Speaking to KSDK TV in St. Louis, the girl’s guardian and uncle, Nehemiah Keeton, said the tantrum was not Jmiya’s first. He said she suffers from separation anxiety and depression, in addition to autism.
“I trusted the school to give her the adequate treatment and care she deserves and they failed us,” he said during an interview. Keeton was on his way to the school to pick Jmiya up, when he got a call from police that she was under arrest.
“Every time they have ever called me I have always responded, that’s why I did not understand why did they had to go to that extreme to dial 911. They knew I was coming,” Keeton continued. “To have know that her feet, her hands, and her waist was cuffed, she was shackled. I feel like they went about and beyond.”
Alton police believe that the officer on the scene was justified in his actions, and that he was forced to arrest the child when she lashed out at the school worker. Capt. Scott Waldrup told KSDK that placing Jmiya in handcuffs was for her own protection as well.
“I will tell you in this particular case, it was necessary to protect that child by restraining that child,” he said.
Jmiya will not return to Love Joy Elementary, leaving Keeton to home school her until he can find a school that can provide proper care for her.