News Article Details

Florida man sues after school resource officer taunts autistic son: report

Orlando Sentinel - 6/12/2019

Jun. 12--Evan Dowdey was 13 years old and had the cognitive ability of a first-grade student when he threw a book at a teacher in 2017.

School resource officer Ural Darling reportedly told Evan that he would be confined to a mental hospital for the rest of his life if he threw another book and implied he would use handcuffs on him. Evan's father, Derek Dowdey, has filed suit against the school district and sheriff's office because of the incident at Osceola Middle School in Seminole, which he said has left his son traumatized and in fear of authority figures, according to a story in the Tampa Bay Times.

"[Evan's] had to seek counseling because of it, and his counselors ... clearly are saying that this had a pretty dramatic impact on his socialization," said Dowdey's attorney, Michael Bird. "He has a general level of anxiety from all of it."

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri fired Darling, a longtime deputy, for what he described as "unacceptable" disciplinary tactics, the Times reported.

Marge Aspell, a behavior specialist at Osceola Middle, also taunted Evan at points during the incident, the Times said. She remains in the same position at the school but was given a letter of reprimand, the Times reported.

The suit seeks a jury trial and more than $15,000 each from the school district and sheriff's office, the Times report.

Read the full report from the Tampa Bay Times.

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