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Mom files lawsuit after she says police tasered, arrested special needs son

The student threatened violence inside Cumberland County High School according to authorities with the Crossville Police Department.
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 1:13 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2021 at 9:01 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Crossville Police Department officers arrested a Cumberland County High School student Thursday after they said he became unruly and threatened violence. WVLT News obtained a video the student’s mother claims captured the incident. She said the situation is more complicated than the report reflects.

According to the report from CPD, officers were dispatched to the school following a report of an unruly student who reportedly threatened violence and who authorities said was capable of injuring staff.

“The student would not comply with the officer’s attempts gain control of the situation stating that, ‘It would take all 5 [of them] to make an arrest.’ The student, at 6′4″ and approx. 240 lbs., had threatened violence and was fully capable of inflicting injury to staff, officers, bystanders and ultimately to the student’s own person,” the report says.

The officers tried to take the student into custody and eventually tasered him, forcing him to the ground and into handcuffs, the report reads.

The student’s mother, identified as Lindsey, said her son suffers from mental illnesses that make him a special case at the school.

According to Lindsey, the student is diagnosed with ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder and disruptive mood regulation disorder. She said this means that he requires an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), which is a special plan that highlights how he may need accommodations at school. She broke down the situation from her son’s point of view.

While in class, she said, her son was asked to clean up a mess by a teacher. He then told the teacher “I didn’t make that mess,” she told WVLT News. Allegedly, the teacher then told her son to “shut up.”

The student became upset and left the classroom, telling his teacher “f--- you, you don’t get to speak to me that way” before going to the school’s ISS office and asking to see the Vice Principal Cristyn Richards, according to Lindsey. Richards was in the cafeteria, the student said, so he explained the situation to the school’s ISS teacher.

Lindsey told WVLT News that the ISS teacher then told her son “I would have told you little punk motherf----- to shut up too.” She said her son then asked for his cellphone to call her, which he was denied. The student then told the ISS teacher “if you don’t give me the phone I’m going to take it,” Lindsey said.

After the situation escalated, the school’s principal, Jon Hall, was called, according to Lindsey. The student did not want to speak to Hall and told him “if you don’t get out of my face I’ll beat your ass,” Lindsey said. At this point, she said, a school resource officer was sent in, who called in two Cumberland County officers.

According to Lindsey, the officers immediately told her son to put his hands behind his back, eventually tasering him and placing him in handcuffs. She told WVLT News that she was not made aware of the tasering until she picked him up from the Cumberland County Juvenile Detention Center about an hour later.

“I don’t see how it’s appropriate to tase a 14-year-old who at the time wasn’t irate,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey told WVLT News that this is not the first time she and her son have had trouble at the school. On Nov. 19, they had a meeting with the school because the same teacher told her son to “shut up,” and they were assured that it would not happen again, Lindsey said.

The student’s classmate recorded video of the tasering and arrest. In the video, Lindsey’s son does not immediately cooperate with the officers. He is seen saying “I have not done anything wrong except ask for my phone.” The officers then taser the student, forcing him to the ground.

Lindsey said that things would have gone differently if he had been allowed to speak to the vice principal.

“He would have been able to speak to his point person,” she said. “She would have been able to calm him down and make him reasonable and he would have been able to go back to class and have a normal day”.”

She does not, however, think her son is totally without blame.

“He’s not innocent he shouldn’t have run his mouth,” she said.

Lindsey said she has hired an attorney and plans to bring forth a lawsuit against the school and police department. She said she doesn’t want money but just wants those involved to be held responsible.

The video of the incident can be seen below, though viewers are warned that it is graphic in nature. The release from CPD is also below.

The investigation is ongoing.

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