School Deputy Threatened, Taunted Autistic Boy, Pinellas Sheriff Says
The deputy, a school resource deputy at Osceola Middle School, was fired Friday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.
PINELLAS COUNTY – A school resource deputy was fired Friday (Aug. 25) after investigators concluded he had yelled at, threatened and taunted a 13-year-old autistic boy, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Ural Darling, 57, had worked with the Sheriff’s Office since Feb. 22, 1995. He last worked as a school resource officer at Osceola Middle School in Seminole.O
Deputies said the boy’s mother noticed her child’s behavior deteriorating at school so she placed a microphone on the boy and audio recorded an interaction between Darling and her son on May 15. After the incident, she complained to the Sheriff’s Office and provided investigators with a copy of the audio recording.
Investigators determined the boy had the cognitive level of a first grader and his communication skills were that of a kindergartener. They also substantiated that Darling had improper conduct with the autistic child.
The incident began when Darling was called to deal with the boy after he threw a book at his teacher. Darling escorted the boy to the behavior specialist’s office where the deputy yelled at the child and took out his handcuffs and taunted the boy. Investigators said Darling made the boy hold three to five books out in front of him and told the child not to put the books down until Darling instructed him to do so.
At one point, Darling threatened to Baker Act the child and said he was going to take the child to the “mental hospital.” He then told the child they would keep him there “forever.” The interaction continued for about 20 minutes before the boy’s mother came to the school to pick him up.
For information about the Pinellas sheriff, go to pcsoweb.com.
For a video of a press conference announcing the firing, go to youtube.com.
Photo shows Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri hold his arms out to demonstrate what the boy was told to do. Photo taken from a video of a press conference Gualtieri held to announce the firing.
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