URBANA, Ill. (CN) - Parents say a Kankakee Police officer Tasered three junior high school children in "demonstrations," while the school principal and teachers looked on. Parents say their children - all minorities, 12, 13, and 14 years old - were Tasered by a white police officer who placed newspapers under one child, in case he defecated or urinated as a result of the shock.
That child refused to be shot with the stun gun, according to the federal complaint.
The parents say the Taserings constitute child abuse and torture.
The children were Tasered in March and October 2009 and in January of this year, according to the parents, who say they believe other children have been Tasered as well. One of the three plaintiffs is a girl.
Kankakee police Officer Lonnie Netzel Tasered the children during "demonstrations" that were witnessed by Kankakee Junior High School Principal Jason Worden and teachers Bradley Netzel and Kyle Flanigan, according to the complaint.
The Kankakee Police Department and the Kankakee School District Board of Education called the Taserings a "demonstration" and say the students volunteered for it, the complaint states.
But the parents say it was torture with racial overtones. The mother of the Tased girl claims the shooting "constituted an act of torture and/or excessive physical punishment."
"Netzel used a Taser gun upon other minor children in the school, including children suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), learning disabilities and other diagnoses, with the shock causing one child to fall over a desk and/or chair," according to the complaint.
"On information and belief, Netzel placed newspaper on a classroom floor before
ordering a separate minor child to lie down on his stomach and be Tasered on his buttocks; that student got up before being Tased and did not permit Netzel to Taser him. On information and belief, the newspaper was placed on the floor in the event the child defecated or urinated as a result of the Tasering.
"On information and belief, Netzel, a Caucasian male, only used his Taser gun upon minority students at Kankakee Junior High School, including T.S., M.V. and M.B., and race played a role in the actions from which this case arises."
The parents say their children were subjected to this abuse and pain without cause or justification. The students felt dizziness, involuntary muscle contractions, a severe burning sensation and blood was visible at the spot where the Taser hit skin, the suit states.
And the parents say the Tasering was not confined to their children. They believe Netzel used the gun on other children with learning disabilities.
The complaint states: "On information and belief, the Principal of Kankakee Junior High School and School District 111 have termed Netzel's Tasering of students an 'unauthorized demonstration' undertaken by students who "volunteered" to be Tased.
"On information and belief, Netzel's use of a Taser gun upon T.S., M.V., M.B. and other students was a form of intimidation used to scare and/or threaten T.S., M.V., M.B. and other Kankakee Junior High School students into behaving, although in these instances it was used absent bad behavior. ...
"Although the School District and Kankakee Police Department allege Netzel used a Taser gun upon only three male students, on information and belief that number is much greater, and the fact that these incidents were not among the 'three' cited by the District demonstrates that the Tasings are much more widespread.
"On information and belief, Netzel's act of using a Taser gun upon students without cause or justification has been ongoing since at least 2008, and the District and/or its employees, including the Kankakee Junior High School Principal, had knowledge of said acts but did nothing to prevent same."
The parents say Netzel was placed on administrative leave because of the Taserings.
The parents claim Worden, Bradley Netzel and Flanigan, violated their duties by not reporting the abuse as mandatory reporters under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
They each seek $1 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages for excessive force, assault and battery, wantonness, child abuse, and denial of equal protection. They are represented by James Rowe in Chicago.
The City of Kankakee, The Board of Education of Kankakee School District 111, Lonnie Netzel, Worden, Bradley Netzel and Flanigan are named as defendants. Kankakee is 60 miles south of Chicago.
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