Florida 6-year-old girl involuntarily committed after school tantrum

Updated: February 18, 2020 01:44 PM
Created: February 18, 2020 01:28 PM

(WTLV / NBC News) The mother of a young girl who was sent to a mental health facility after having a tantrum at her Jacksonville, Florida school says she wants to know exactly what happened before officers arrived after viewing police body camera footage of her daughter's detention.

"I want answers. An apology would be nice, but it's not going to erase the pain that I feel watching that video knowing my daughter may have been provoked because their staff was irritated or maybe had a bad day and didn’t want to deal with a special needs child," Martina Falk says.


Part of the body cam video shows the 6-year-old calmly being escorted to a patrol car. In another part, an officer, who is off-camera, can be heard saying, "She's perfect, she's fine." One clip shows an officer suggesting school staff may be "pushing" the girl's buttons.

Falk's attorney, Reganel Reeves, says the staff at Love Grove Elementary knew the girl had a disruptive mood disordered and the third-party mental health professional licensed by the school should not have invoked the Baker Act, which allows the involuntary institutionalization and examination of a person who is deemed a threat to themselves and others.

"She had tantrums. 6-year-old kids have tantrums. Children with special needs have tantrums," he says.

Reeves says he believes having the girl taken into custody was an act of false imprisonment and a civil rights violation against a child with special needs.

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