NY DAILY NEWS: A Brooklyn school’s botched handling of a 5-year-old autistic student’s tantrum ended disastrously — with his mom and grandma in handcuffs and his great-grandmother’s rib broken, the family and their lawyers charge.
Cops hauled the kindergartner out of Public School 197 in Brighton Beach, handcuffed his kin when they tried to comfort the boy, and pushed his 80-year-old great-grandmother out of the ambulance transporting him to the psych ward, they say.
“I was hysterical beyond belief, but I never expressed it because I wanted to help,” said mom Ida Rozenberg, 27, who was handcuffed before she was finally permitted to climb in the ambulance to comfort her son.
“He was crying and screaming,” she added. “They strapped him to that stretcher. He started, ‘What am I doing here? — in Russian. ‘Why am I here? What did I do?’ ”
On Tuesday, the family expects to officially notify the city of plans to sue over the March 6 incident. And officials confirm that the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board is investigating.
Police deny handcuffing or manhandling the family.
“No one was touched,” a police spokeswoman said, noting officers were called to the school because the boy was out of control.
The attorneys for the family, who asked to identify the boy as G.R., argue the police should never have been called.
“They should have been able to handle this temper tantrum from a 5-year-old.”
In December, family members were called to the school when G.R. became upset, but they were allowed to comfort the boy and take him home.
They were treated very differently on March 6. Grandmother Maria Lirtsman, 50, was the first family member to arrive and was physically blocked from seeing her grandson, she said.
A police officer dragged her down the school stairs faster than she could walk, she said, and at one point she fell. Cops handcuffed her twice, Rothman said.
“I was treated like garbage, like I’m a second-hand citizen,” said Lirtsman, who immigrated to the U.S. 35 years ago. “In Russia
, I would expect something like that, but in America it was the first time.”
Cops also handcuffed the mother and then pushed the great-grandmother to the ground when she tried to get in the ambulance with the distraught boy.
The ambulance driver ultimately stepped in to make sure the police released Rozenberg from handcuffs.
G.R. was given a clean bill of mental health and released from Coney Island Hospital, his family and attorneys say.
Later that evening, great-grandmother Lana Lirtsman returned to the hospital, fearing she was having a heart attack. Instead she learned that her rib had been broken, the family said.
“I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me,” she said.
Department of Education officials declined to comment on the specific incident, citing privacy rules.
“The school has assigned a [a teacher’s aide\] for the child and has been working with the family to meet the needs of the student,” said Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg.
Advocates charged calling cops on kindergartners shouldn’t be tolerated in city schools.
“This is the kind of behavior that is so out of line and so inconsistent with any notion of how we should be dealing with children that it’s really hard to believe,” said New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman.