B.C. mom records police handcuffing 12-year-old in hospital
A review was launched after police officers recorded holding a handcuffed Indigenous child on the floor of a Vancouver hospital – an incident the Union of BC Indian Chiefs has described as “horrific”.
Video shows two Metro Vancouver Transit Police officers holding the 12-year-old boy face down in the emergency room at BC Children’s Hospital on Thursday while his mother repeatedly asked them to remove the handcuffs.
“You are too much. You are a little too much. That’s too much,” she tells them off-screen.
The mother shared the video on social media Thursday night, writing that her son was experiencing behavioral issues related to a range of medical conditions and was getting upset while they waited for a doctor’s visit.
“My son started whining and a moment later he was pushed to the ground and handcuffed. My son cried while the officer…had his knee on my child’s back,” she wrote. “I told the officer that what they just did to my child wasn’t right.”
The hospital’s chief operating officer told CTV News that staff have initiated a health and safety review of the incident and that an Indigenous health team has reached out to the family to offer support.
“Providing an inclusive and culturally safe healthcare environment for patients and their families is a top priority for BC Children’s Hospital,” COO Sarah Bell said in an email. “Due to patient confidentiality, we will not be releasing any further details.”
On Twitter, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs described officers’ treatment of the young patient as “callous violence.”
“Children deserve compassionate care,” wrote UBCIC. “Our hands go up to the mother who acted bravely in such a terrible situation.”
In a statement, the Metro Vancouver Transit Police defended the officers’ use of force as “a necessary step” to ensure their own safety and the safety of the young patient.
“The youth became combative when he was brought in for examination. After he calmed down, the handcuffs were removed and the youth was taken to the hospital under medical supervision,” Const said. wrote Amanda Steed.
Authorities said they first encountered the family at the Broadway Commercial SkyTrain station earlier Thursday and also handcuffed the 12-year-old while they arrested him under the Mental Health Act.
Officers were responding to a request for help from a SkyTrain attendant who was trying to intervene in an altercation between the boy and his mother, Steed said.
“The youths began attacking the guard and trying to steal their radio and other equipment,” she wrote.
“Officials attempted to verbally de-escalate the situation, but the youth began urging his mother to the tracks, prompting even greater concern for her safety. Officers had to handcuff the youth as a safety precaution to prevent further injury to all involved.”
In her Facebook post, the child’s mother said she was doing her best to deal with her son’s behavior. She also told officers involved in Thursday’s incident that they were the first the family had dealt with and felt it was necessary to hold their son in this manner.
CTV News has reached out to the family for more information.
Despite defending the officers’ actions, Steed said the Metro Vancouver Transit Police reached out to a partner agency for “support and guidance to better manage neurodivergent individuals.”
“It is unfortunate that police officers have to respond to ongoing mental health issues, and we hope more resources become available for families to find the support they need without involving law enforcement,” Steed said.