The mother of an autistic 12-year-old boy was shocked when she found out her son was arrested in school for pretending to carry a gun.
David Sims is in fifth grade at Conroe Independent School District’s Bozman Intermediate School in Texas, and was in art class when he allegedly gestured towards his teacher as if he was pointing a gun, but wasn’t actually holding anything. His mother, Amy Sims, said her son didn’t understand that this could be offensive. Instead of notifying her or having a school administrator talk to the boy, however, a school police officer placed David in handcuffs.
“She just put handcuffs on me and told me I need to go with her,” David told FOX26.
David was taken to a juvenile detention center, where he was held for more than two hours.
“Being put in handcuffs, not knowing what he did wrong, I could have had a talk with him and told him look, I know you like to play guns, but you can’t do it in school,” the mother told the local station.
A representative for Conroe Independent School District said in a statement to Law&Crime that they couldn’t address specific matters of student discipline, but that “any actions or statements that are threatening in nature are taken seriously,” and “[a]ctions or statements containing specific elements are responded to in a manner that will initiate access to the appropriate support resources, and situations involving students with special needs are responded to with consideration for each unique need.”
Amy Sims didn’t take this approach to be a positive one in her son’s case.
“Because he’s disabled, they automatically think he’s got something mental, so he might go shoot up a school.”
Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright defended the arrest, saying that David’s allegedly threatening gesture came after he made a verbal threat. Lambright also said this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened.
Still, Lambright said criminal charges are unlikely, but according to David’s family, he has to switch to an alternative disciplinary school for the rest of the school year.
Lambright explained that classroom incidents have been on the rise in the area as of late, especially since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“Right after the Florida incident we were getting two a day, three a day and it wasn’t isolated to any particular school,” he said. “We have six school districts in Montgomery County and they were coming in across the County.”
[Image via FOX26 screengrab]
Note: This article has been updated with comments from Conroe ISD.