The mother of an elementary school student sued the D.C. police department Thursday, alleging in federal court that an officer slammed the boy’s head on a cafeteria table last year at a school in Southeast Washington.
Attorneys for the mother, Chante Price, said that the boy, then 10, had headaches that lasted two weeks and that he might have suffered a concussion. The suit says the boy’s teacher declined to take action because a police officer was involved.
The boy, identified in court documents only as “T.P.,” is described as an avid learner who, since the incident, “has not wanted to attend school and feels insecure in his classroom, even with a teacher present.”
The lawsuit, filed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, does not specify monetary damages, leaving it to the court to determine compensatory and punitive damages. The suit accuses the officer of assault and battery and using excessive force.
The D.C. attorney general’s office, which defends the District in civil suits, declined to comment on the filing. The officer named in the suit, David E. Bailey Jr., a 14-year member of the force, could not be reached for comment.
The suit says the mother filed a complaint with D.C. Office of Police Complaints, an independent agency that investigates allegations of police misconduct. According to the lawsuit, the agency board referred the case to the U.S. attorney’s office, which declined to prosecute and sent the case back for administrative review.
Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, confirmed that account. He said prosecutors did not file criminal charges “because of insufficient evidence to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.”
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier declined to discuss the allegations, but she said in a statement that “police officers should be afforded due process just like anyone else, before judgment is passed. It should also be noted that criminal charges were declined in this matter.”
Attorneys for the mother say the incident occurred last April 19 at Wilkinson Elementary School, where Moten Elementary students, including the boy, were going to class temporarily because of renovations. The suit says the student’s music teacher sent him to the cafeteria for disciplinary reasons.
According to the suit, as the boy and a classmate were “quietly reading” a book, Bailey stopped by the table and lectured them on how to behave. The officer was assigned to the neighborhood and was visiting the school on his rounds.
The suit says Bailey, apparently upset that the boy was talking during his lecture, told the boy, “Stop playing with me.” The boy responded that he was “not playing,” according to the suit. The lawsuit alleges that the officer “grabbed T.P. by the back of his head and slammed T.P.’s head forward into the table. Officer Bailey then grabbed T.P. by the shirt and forcefully lifted him off the chair.”
The suit says Bailey told the child, “Play with me again, I’ll take you to 7D,” referring to a nearby police station.
According to attorneys, Price reported that the boy was taken to a hospital emergency room because he had headaches and felt sleepy. The attorneys declined to arrange interviews with the mother or the boy.