8-Year-Old Handcuffed, Put In Jail After School Fight
Associated Press, various media in U.S.A. and Canada, August 31, 2004
ESPANOLA, N.M. , U.S.A.-- A New Mexico third-grader was handcuffed and arrested by police after hitting another student with a basketball, the child's mother and her lawyer say.
"The Legislature never envisioned that the law would be used to lock an 8-year-old in any jail, especially an adult jail," attorney Sheri Raphaelson said.
"This is the most egregious example of poor judgment by police that I've ever seen in my 15 years of practicing law," she said.
According to a juvenile citation for disorderly conduct, Jerry Trujillo was arrested Thursday and booked into the Espanola jail after he "got out of control and refused to go back to class."
Police Chief Richard Guillen, who was not at work Thursday, said he had few details but that officers "couldn't deal with" the boy before taking him into custody.
He said he had conflicting accounts of where the boy was held and for how long.
It's illegal to keep a juvenile at an adult facility.
Espanola school Superintendent Vernon Jaramillo said the incident was being investigated. He expected a report from the school's principal, Corinne Salazar.
The boy's mother, Angelica Esquibel, said he was sent to the school office Thursday when he raised his voice to a teacher after hitting another child with the basketball.
Esquibel, who works next door to the school, said she was called to the office, and that Jerry began crying and saying he wanted to go home.
She said a school counselor wanted him to return to class, and that when the boy ran outside and started crying louder, the counselor told him if he wasn't going to be in school, she was going to call police.
The counselor told him officers would handcuff him and put him in a cell "until he changes his attitude," Esquibel said.
Guillen said he'd been told the mother agreed police should be called. She said she told school officials not to call them.
Two officers tried to tell Jerry to go back to class and told him he had a choice -- class or jail, Esquibel said. When the boy got upset and loud, they handcuffed him, she said.
The police report says Jerry was arrested, taken to jail, booked and released to his parents.
Esquibel said that when she arrived at the police station, he was standing against a wall, crying.
He told her he was placed "in a dark room with a window, a metal toilet and a metal sink," and that inmates banged on the window "saying they were going to get him and cussing," she said. He said officers told him to stop crying or they'd let the inmates get him, she said.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.