Lakewood, CO – Police and school officials in Lakewood say a healthy dose of pepper spray was the appropriate response to an unruly second-grader’s all-out temper tantrum on February 22. Authorities say the boy was blasted twice after he refused to drop a one-foot piece of sharpened wood trim he had been threatening to stab his teachers with.
According to Lakewood Police spokesman Steve Davis, 8-year-old Aiden had apparently caused a little trouble on the bus that morning while en route to Glennon Heights Elementary School. Once in the classroom, the boy began pitching a fit and threatened to kill his teacher and another staff member. Aiden began spitting at the teachers and tearing up the classroom. Scared, the teachers barricaded themselves in another room and called police for backup.
Aiden reportedly continued with his fit, throwing chairs and a TV at the door. He then ripped a piece of moulding off the wall and threatened to stab the teachers. “I wanted to make something sharp if they came out because I was so mad at them,” Aidan said in an interview with 9News. “I was going to try to whack them with it.”
Aiden was still armed with the stick when police arrived. When told to drop the stick, Aiden reportedly screamed, “Get away from me you fuckers!” An officer again demanded that he drop the stick. When he didn’t, he was sprayed twice with pepper spray (he blocked the first shot with a piece of cardboard), and subsequently placed in handcuffs.
Defending the officer’s decision to pepper spray the boy, Davis said that doing so likely prevented the 82-pound boy from injuring his fellow classmates, police and himself. “You’ve got teachers barricading themselves in a room. They are obviously frightened,” Davis said. “I think they not only made the right choice, they made a great choice that day to use the pepper spray.”
School officials backed the officer’s decision, too, claiming it needed to be done. “He was violent, he was verbal, he was abusive,” Community Superintendent Peg Kastberg said. “The police were very thoughtful and thorough about the actions that they took.”
Though she doesn’t deny that her son was acting like a complete asshole, the boy’s mother, identified only as “Mandy,” believes the situation could have been handled differently. “I’m sure what he was doing wasn’t right, but he’s 8-years-old,” she said. “They walked in, asked him to drop the stick, and then sprayed him with the spray…I think it’s excessive.” She says police have been called on her son at school twice before, and both times the officers were able to talk to the boy and get him calmed down.
Mandy claims Aiden is being seen by a doctor, but at this point, the kid hasn’t been diagnosed with any kind of mental illness and isn’t currently taking any medications. Aiden admits that he has anger problems, adding, “Just kind of like whenever anybody upsets me,” he said. “Like I just kind of want to tear them apart… I think it’s not ever going to go away…It’s just who I am.”
Placed on a mental health hold after the incident, Aiden has since been transferred to a school for children with behavioral issues. Because of his age, no charges were filed.