ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - APD is in trouble again - this time for what officers allegedly did to little kids.
The city of Albuquerque is heading to trial because of what happened to two 10-year-old children.
In two separate incidents in 2010, officers handcuffed the kids and put them in police cars.
The kids' attorney says it amounts to child abuse.
“They should not be handcuffed,” said civil rights attorney Joseph Kennedy of Kennedy Law Firm. “They should not be bound. It's psychologically damaging to children. So we want that to end.”
The city doesn't deny they put the two children in handcuffs during separate incidents – but says the officers had the right to do that.
City attorney Kathy Levy said the law permits officers to do what's appropriate given the circumstances.
“When all of the facts are presented to a jury, they’ll see that the officers acted lawfully and appropriately and with due regard to the age of the minors,” Levy said.
State law says "a child under the age of 11 shall not be held in detention."
Kennedy says that means officers have no reason to put children in handcuffs.
“This is a violent act to render a child incapable of movement,” he said.
Kennedy says the two incidents in 2010 are examples of a pattern of abuse among law enforcement when it comes to kids.
In January 2010, APD Officers Matthew Fisher and Nick Wilson went on a call to a southeast apartment complex
That’s where they put a 10-year-old girl in handcuffs after she allegedly threw a Dixie cup at Fisher.
“Even with that allegation, a 10-year-old is not to be arrested, not to be handcuffed in the state of New Mexico,” Kennedy says.
Four months later, there was another incident in a Smith’s parking lot.
APD Officers Arturo Sanchez and Terry Stephenson were called to the scene when a 10-year-old boy didn't want to go with his father for a visitation.
“The officer got fed up with him and actually placed him against the car and placed him in handcuffs in the back seat of his patrol car which is terrifying,” he said.
The suit says, “While handcuffing K.K., defendant Sanchez dropped his face toward the ground and then yanked him upwards and slammed him into his patrol unit.”
Kennedy wants to send a message with the lawsuit.
“They should not be handcuffed,” he said. “They should not be bound. It's psychologically damaging to children. So we want that to end.”
The suit will likely go to trial at the beginning of next year.
Kennedy represented a plaintiff in a similar lawsuit against the city and APD in 2011, after a school resource officer put a 13-year-old student in handcuffs for an hour.
That resulted in a $30,000 settlement.
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