Fairfax Station, Va. – Pamela Ononiwu said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she arrived at her 5-year-old son’s school and saw a school resource officer holding him in a chokehold.
Ononiwu had come to Fairview Elementary School in Fairfax Station, Virginia to pick up her son for a dentist appointment on Oct. 2, 2018 when she saw the horrifying scene.
According to Ononiwu, as she approached the vestibule near the principal’s officer where her son was waiting, she could hear him in distress.
“’To my shock and horror, I found my son being put in a chokehold,” Ononiwu, 37, told NBC News. “This school resource officer was holding him at a 90 degree angle. My son kept trying to kick to get out of it, and the tighter the grip got.”
“I repeatedly told him to let my son go. I was scared because I was like, ‘Will I also be shot dead trying to save my son?’ But I said it’s worth it because I’m not gonna be here and let my son die or pass out in front of me,” the mother of three said. Ultimately, the school officer pushed the boy away, letting him go.
Ononiwu says the school told her they called the officer to deal with her son, who has ADHD, because had been singing to loudly in Spanish class and wouldn’t stop.
When Ononiwu confronted the school principal, school district, and school board about the incident she says no one cared or listened to her concerns.
“Nobody thought it was heinous that a child was in a chokehold. No one had any empathy,” Ononiwu said.
She added that her daughter has also been restrained and secluded in the school. ‘They dragged my daughter one day. My daughter told me they dragged her into a room; her shoes were in the hallway.’
As a result, Ononiwu and two other parents sued FCPS system claiming that they caused ‘psychological trauma’ and ‘physical harm’ on students with disabilities by using restraints and seclusion to ‘silence, detain, segregate, and punish.’
Ononiwu said the parties recently agreed to settle the suit, with both monetary relief and drastic changes to school policy, however she didn’t reveal the amount of money Fairfax County paid out.
Fairfax County is one of America’s wealthiest school districts, with a median household income of $103,000.
Ononiwu said she’ll never forget what her son, now 8 years old, said just moments after being in the chokehold.
“He told me and another adult that he thought the officer was the devil and he was scared that he was gonna die,” she said.