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FRANKLIN -- The father of a 9-year-old says his son was fighting back against bullies and that's why the boy was arrested at elementary school and led away in handcuffs.
Ronnie Shepperd was there shooting video when Franklin police officers came to arrest his son, who he says has autism, at Needham Elementary School.
"He's watched the video several times. He still talks about it. He's pretty traumatized over the whole ordeal. Any 9-year-old that's being arrested, they don't know what's going on," said Shepperd.
He says the boy was defending himself against bullies who hit him on the playground.
"Another student was bullying my son several times and he actually told the principal and a lot of staff members here who are in charge of recess about the bullying and they didn't take no steps to make it safe," said Shepperd.
Another student who saw what happened tells a different story. He says the 9-year-old and another boy got into an argument over a butterfly. "The kid went behind him and pushed him down and then started choking him." When a teacher came by to try to break it up, the student says the 9-year-old jumped on the teacher's back and started choking her. Eventually another teacher ended the fight.
Franklin Police Chief Tim O'Sullivan confirms that a student at the elementary school was arrested for battering another student as well as two teachers on August 30.
According to the Daily Journal, the school was put on lockdown when police were called after a fight at recess on the 30th.
O' Sullivan says the boy was charged as a juvenile with battery and criminal mischief. Shepperd says his son was kept for about 20 minutes at the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center and then released to him.
Franklin Schools Superintendent Dr. David Clendining says anytime there is an incident that threatens safety, they involve the police. Dr. Clendining says the principal made the right call in this case.
He would not comment on whether the child actually injured anyone and would not comment on the 9-year-old's status at school.
The boy's father can be heard on the video threatening a lawsuit but now says he's decided against it. Shepperd says he waited to release the video on his attorney's advice until his son's case worked its way through the judicial system. The charges were eventually dropped.
"I decided it's time to post them. I think it's time to put it out there and let the public know what's happening in our schools," said Shepperd.
The 9-year-old is now at Earlywood Education Center in Franklin. His father says he's doing "awesome" and hasn't been in any trouble since he's been there. He says would like the boy to go back to Needham Elementary but says he's scared for him because of the bullying.
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