Montgomery Co. parent says bodycams show police abuse, threaten child inside school

A stock photo of a Montgomery County Public Schools bus. Dec. 23, 2015. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

The parent of a Montgomery County Public Schools student is suing both the school system and the county police department following an incident in 2020 involving her Maryland child.

Parent Shanta Grant, who filed the lawsuit, said her son was able to walk away from East Silver Spring Elementary last year without being noticed. She said once police found the boy, about two-tenths of a mile away, officers were verbally abusive, threatening, and even put a handcuff on the child once he was taken back to the school.

In all, the situation lasted 50 minutes. When the incident happened in January of 2020, the boy was five years old.

“If the allegations are true, this is reprehensible behavior,” said Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando in an interview with WTOP.

Jawando is an outspoken proponent of police reform who has called for police to be removed from inside schools.

“It’s a failure of the system at multiple levels. Not only a failure to protect and serve this, again, five-year-old child, this little boy. But also what happened at the school. How did he get out of the classroom and not be noticed? How did he get down the street?”

In particular, Bethesda Beat said the lawsuit states that the police approached the boy in an angry manner, and that once back at the school, one of the officers screamed multiple times in his face with “the seeming purpose of terrorizing an already traumatized and upset child.”

An officer is also accused of telling the boy, “this is why people need to beat their kids” and “I hope your mama let me beat you.”

Neither the Montgomery County Police Department or the school system is commenting because of the ongoing litigation. A police internal affairs investigation is reportedly underway.

Lawyers for the mother said everything alleged in the complaint was taken from footage recorded by the body-worn camera of one of the officers involved. The other officer didn’t have their camera on, which could also be a violation of police department policy.

Jawando told WTOP that if the allegations are true it raises several important questions.

“Why was personal information given out? Why wasn’t the situation de-escalated by school staff?,” he also asked. “But of course, why are these officers treating him that way; in a way that nobody should be treated, let alone at any age, but certainly not a five-year-old boy? … It’s very troubling to hear.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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