A 7-year-old boy emerged from a Miami-Dade Schools police car’s back seat on Friday afternoon in metal handcuffs while his mother videotaped and comforted him from just a few feet away.
The video captures the boy — his hands cuffed behind his back — stepping out of a patrol car and being guided into the Miami Children’s Hospital by a uniformed police officer.
“It’s OK, my love,” the boy’s mother says in Spanish.
His father, Rolando Fuentes, told ABC News that it was difficult to watch the video.
“I saw it once but I cannot see it anymore,” he said.
His son, whom ABC News is not naming because of his age, was with fellow students in his elementary school’s cafeteria on Friday when, according to an incident report by Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, the 7-year-old misbehaved after a teacher told him “not to play with his food.”
Fuentes said his son was being egged on by other students to “mess with his milk and cereal.”
But he said his son refused.
“He says, ‘This is wrong. I’m not supposed to.’ But the other kids told him, ‘Yes, go ahead and do it.’ He felt under pressure I think,” Fuentes said.
That’s when one student apparently told a substitute teacher. His son was separated from the other kids and the students were led back to the classroom, Fuentes said.
“From there I don’t know,” the father said.
A Miami-Dade Schools Police Department incident report says Fuentes’ son was told repeatedly by his female teacher that “if he was to continue to play with [his food] instead of eating it, to throw it away.”
The boy then allegedly “attacked the teacher,” the report said, “by repeatedly punching her on the back, in the hallway” while she attempted to inform another teacher of the boy’s unwillingness to heed her warning.
The teacher was able to restrain the boy but he “continued to fight her with his fists and legs” and the tussling forced both the teacher and the boy “to fall to the ground,” the report said.
He allegedly “continued to fight the teacher, grabbing her hair and pulling it towards him,” according to the report.
The boy was finally restrained “where he was not able to move” and sent to the principal’s office, the report said.
Although the teacher did not have any visible injuries, she “stated her back was hurting” and “wanted to press charges,” the report said.
On Monday, Miami-Dade Schools Police Fraternal Order of Police president Al Palacio came out in support of the police officer who handcuffed the boy.
“We stand behind the actions of our officer,” Palacio said in a release, adding that the cop “lawfully restrained” the 7-year-old and “properly transported” him to the hospital.
Palacio also clarified that the boy “was NOT arrested, he was merely restrained for transport, in accordance with department standard operating procedures.”
Ian Moffett, chief of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, said on Sunday said that while it was “rare” for a 7-year-old to be taken into custody, the action was “warranted to prevent his erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself.”
He added that the matter is being internally reviewed.
Before his son was taken away in handcuffs, Fuentes said that he pleaded with the police officer to handcuff him instead.
“I asked them before putting [him] in the police car, ‘Let me ride with him or ‘cuff me, but not my kid,'” he said.
Fuentes said the incident has taken a toll on his entire family. His younger son is worried about dealing with the police in the future.
“My 3-year-old son came to [me] and said, ‘Dad, I’m afraid the police are going to take my brother away,'” he said. “I told him, ‘No it’s not going to happen.'”
ABC News’ Victor Oquendo and Ben Stein contributed to this report.
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