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CPD officer dragged special ed student, 4, down hallway at Uptown school, parents say

Earlier this month, Chicago Public Schools sent Shanece Williams a letter saying it “substantiated” physical abuse in the incident last spring. Williams says her efforts to get more information on what happened have been stonewalled by the district.

Shanece Williams hugs her son’s father during a press conference about allegations that the 4-year-old boy was abused by security at John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown, Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 17, 2020.
Shanece Williams hugs her son’s father during a press conference about allegations that the 4-year-old boy was physically abused by security at John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown, Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 17, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Four-year-old Jamari Wright dreamed of being a police officer — even dressing up as one for Halloween.

But that changed this spring. Suddenly, the sight of an officer sent him screaming, “‘I don’t want to go to jail,’” his mother Shanece Williams recalled.

Williams said she later learned from a child welfare officer that a Chicago Police Officer working at an Uptown elementary school allegedly dragged her son — a special needs students — down a hallway.

In the months since then, Williams said Chicago Public Schools has stonewalled her on details about the incident — and only this month sent a letter saying the abuse had been “substantiated” and saying the officer could face discipline in the March 2 incident.

“When I first learned this news, my heart dropped. I felt so heartbroken. I felt I couldn’t protect my baby from harm,” Williams told reporters Tuesday outside McCutcheon, 4865 N. Sheridan Road. “I still don’t know what led up to this incident. I have so many unanswered questions.”

Shanece Williams alleges during a press conference that her 4-year-old son was abused by security at John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown, Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 17, 2020.
Shanece Williams alleges during a press conference that her 4-year-old son was abused by security at John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown, Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 17, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Her attorney, Michael Jarard, said he filed a suit in federal court to learn basic details about the incident. The lawsuit says the security guard is a Chicago police officer, and that the school never notified Williams of the incident or documented it in a “behavior log.”

Jarard said the difficulty in getting information on the incident is part of a “chalk wall of silence.”

“We’re going to get answers, and we’ll make sure the community knows [CPS] is trying to silence abuse in our schools,” Jarad said.

In a statement, CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said: “While the district cannot comment on ongoing litigation, the district takes allegations of student harm seriously. The safety of our students is the district’s highest priority and we are committed to creating safe and supportive school environments.”

Jamari’s grandmother Felicity Murray said he’s a “happy child,” but she doesn’t know how he’ll deal with the alleged trauma.

“For this to happen to him, I don’t have any words about how upset I am. Four years old? This should never have happened to my grandchild,” Murray said.

Attorney Michael Jarard speaks during a press conference about allegations that a 4-year-old boy was abused by security at John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown, Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 17, 2020.
Attorney Michael Jarard speaks during a press conference about allegations that a 4-year-old boy was abused by security at John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown, Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 17, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times