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Montgomery County settles lawsuit over police berating 5-year-old

Police video recorded two officers yelling at child and saying he should be beaten

East Silver Spring Elementary School, seen on Aug. 16, 2022, was the scene of a Jan. 14, 2020, encounter between a 5-year-old boy and officers in Montgomery County, Md. (Dan Morse/The Washington Post)

Montgomery County agreed to pay out $275,000 to settle a lawsuit that grew from an encounter between a 5-year-old boy and two police officers at East Silver Spring Elementary School, officials said Friday.

The 2020 incident, as recorded by a body camera one of the officers was wearing, showed them berating and insulting the child after he’d fled from his school, and telling him he deserved to be beaten. The money will come from the county’s self-insurance fund, officials said.

The mother of the child sued the county last year, asserting among other claims that the officers’ behavior left her son with PTSD. Attorneys for the county aggressively challenged the allegations, according to their court filings.

A trial had been set to begin Jan. 23. Among the central claims that were expected to be heard by a jury: The officers put the child in such immediate fear of being hurt that it amounted to assault. “Boy I’m telling you,” one of them loudly said to him, according to the video, “I hope your momma let me beat you.”

According to a seven-page “Release and Settlement of Claim,” signed by all parties and made public Friday, the child’s parents agreed not to bring any more claims against the county and the county assumed no admission of liability over the incident.

Attorneys James Papirmeister and Matthew Bennett, who represented the child’s mother, said all money received by the family will go into a trust that the boy will have access to when he turns 18.

“Our client is glad to put this litigation behind her,” Papirmeister said. “Her son will have money put away for his future, and she won’t have to continue to go through a difficult and sometimes painful process.”