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School official defends cops who pepper-sprayed boy

1:30 PM, Apr 7, 2011   |    comments
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"He was violent, he was verbal, he was abusive," Community Superintendent Peg Kastberg said. "The police were very thoughtful and thorough about the actions that they took."

A Lakewood Police report details 8-year-old Aidan's violent temper tantrum in a classroom at Glennon Heights Elementary in Lakewood on Feb. 22.

According to the report, Aidan "was climbing the cart and spitting at teachers, he also broke wood trim off the walls and was trying to stab teachers with it."

"I wanted to make something sharp if they came out because I was so mad at them," Aidan said. "I was going to try to whack them with it."

The report goes on to say Aidan "was holding what looked like a sharpened one foot stick and he screamed 'get away from me you f---ers.'"

Lakewood Police officers ordered the 8-year-old to "drop the stick." When he refused, they sprayed him with pepper spray twice until he dropped the piece of wood and was handcuffed.

According to the police report, the boy was later treated on the scene for "a red, irritated face."

Child behavioral expert Dr. Larry Curry says he is observing a trend of young children becoming more violent, influenced by the Internet, TV and video games.

"It's a wakeup call to schools, it's a wakeup call to parents," Curry said. "We're going to see more and more episodes like this. This is not just an isolated situation."

Curry believes Lakewood Police handled the situation appropriately.

"It's the safety and welfare for [the boy] and for his peers, and for the school personnel," Curry said.

"I kinda deserved it," Aidan said during an interview Monday.

Aidan's mother Mandy, whose last name 9NEWS has chosen not to disclose, believes the police officers should have handled the situation differently. She says police were called on her son at school twice before, and both times the officers were able to talk to her son and calm him down.

"I'm sure what he was doing wasn't right, but he's 8 years old," Mandy said. "They walked in, asked him to drop the stick, and then sprayed him with the spray...I think it's excessive."

Lakewood Police spokesman Steve Davis defended the officers' decision to use pepper spray on the boy, calling it the safest option considering the circumstances.

"You've got teachers barricading themselves in a room. They are obviously frightened," Davis said. "I think they not only made the right choice, they made a great choice that day to use the pepper spray."

Aidan was placed on a "mental health hold" and was transferred to a school for children with behavioral issues.

His mother says Aidan is seeing a doctor, but has not been diagnosed with any mental illness and is not currently on any medication.

"It's hard," Mandy said. "Do you listen to what the teachers tell you? Or do you listen to your child?"

Aidan admitted he has problems controlling his anger.

"Just kind of like whenever anybody upsets me," he said. "Like I just kind of want to tear them apart... I think it's not ever going to go away... It's just who I am."

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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