Skip to comments.Mom, 5-year-old girl in video fires lawyer, moving out of state
Posted on 04/26/2005 5:02:47 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
ST. PETERSBURG - The mother of the 5-year-old girl who was handcuffed at school by police has withdrawn her daughter from Pinellas public schools and is moving out of state, superintendent Clayton Wilcox said Monday night.
The development was the latest in a bizarre saga that began Friday, when a videotape of the handcuffing was made public.
Since then, wrenching video images of the wailing kindergartener being handcuffed by St. Petersburg police have raced around the globe, airing and re-airing on television news shows in the United States, Great Britain, Spain, around Asia and beyond.
On Monday morning, the Largo lawyer representing the girl's mother appeared on five network news shows. He returned wearily to his office to find a fax from the mother, 24-year-old Inga Akins, stating he had been fired. The fax had been sent from the tabloid TV show A Current Affair, on which the mother appeared Friday and Monday.
Also on Monday came the prospect that the Rev. Al Sharpton would be coming to town. The famous New York crusader and one-time presidential candidate is intrigued and considering weighing in on the episode, his staff said.
"Instantly he felt that it smelled bad, but he wants to research it first," said his spokeswoman Rachel Nordlinger. "It could be a case of police brutality or a case of her civil rights being violated."
Wilcox had no further information on Akins' move to pull the girl out of school. She was handcuffed at Fairmount Park Elementary on March 14 and transferred to another public school after the incident.
Wilcox said he found out about her leaving the system when he asked his staff Monday how she was doing in the new school.
A call to Akins' cell phone went unreturned Monday night.
Pinellas County records show that a St. Petersburg apartment complex where she lived moved to evict her on March 31, about two weeks after the handcuffing that put her daughter's face on TV screens across he world.
Wilcox said the girl had been out of school since Thursday.
John Trevena, who had been serving as the attorney for Akins, said he learned from an executive producer at A Current Affair that the girl and her mother traveled to New York City over the weekend, where they stayed at the show's expense.
The case of the handcuffed little girl was the top story on the tabloid program Monday night, with images of the girl smelling a flower and running through a park laughing.
The show interviewed a child psychologist who said the handcuffing might be racially motivated. A Current Affair also said the girl "had to flee her home to escape the media."
The show blamed Trevena's release of the video to major media outlets last week, including the St. Petersburg Times . The lawyer said a producer from the show "raged" at him last Friday, saying the release of the video violated an exclusive agreement between Akins and A Current Affair.
Trevena said he had been unaware of any agreement.
The show made no mention of its part in the media frenzy that has followed the video.
A Current Affair clearly communicated it had every intention of running the videotape, Trevena said. He also said the show interviewed Akins and her daughter only days after the handcuffing incident.
On Friday, a few hours after the video began screaming across the world, the show announced to the media that it had an exclusive.
It sent out a news release titled: "Five-year-old African American girl handcuffed by three police officers. A Current Affair gets first national look at incident on tape."
The program Monday evening did not disclose on air how much it had paid Akins for the story. When asked what the sum was Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the show laughed at the question. She said there would be no comment on the story.
Trevena called the program's actions "highly unethical and possibly illegal." He said he was concerned that his client was in New York discussing the case with another party without legal advice.
The videotape shows the girl defying an assistant principal and another school staff member as she tore items off walls and swung at the educators.
Later, it shows the girl in the assistant principal's office tearing items off a bulletin board, climbing on a table and swinging at the assistant principal numerous times.
The video ends after about 28 minutes with the girl crying as three St. Petersburg police officers place her in handcuffs.
The girl had a history of problems at the school, though the full extent is not known because student records are not public.
District officials have discussed an incident several weeks before the handcuffing in which a city police officer was called to the school because of a behavior problem with the girl. The officer said something to her about the possibility of being handcuffed if her behavior continued.
Akins later objected to that conversation, part of an ongoing feud with the school over her daughter's treatment.
District officials say the video started as an exercise by the girl's teacher to improve her craft in the classroom. But they acknowledge that the girl's history may have played a part in the decision to keep the camera rolling that day.
Though city police are being harshly criticized for their role in the incident, the department declined Wednesday to elaborate on the rationale for the handcuffing, citing a pending investigation.
Police spokesman Bill Proffitt said the department stood by a statement made in mid March, which was that department policy allows the handcuffing of minors in certain situations.
How did an incident that received mild attention in March blossom into a worldwide phenomenon five weeks later?
The video, said Matthew Felling, media director at The Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.
"It's not necessarily about the little girl, it's about the visceral nature of it," he said. "Is it compelling? Yes. Is it emotional porn? Yes. Is it internationally relevant news? No."
He said too many media outlets had been airing only part of the video, which is about 28 minutes long.
"This story is driven by 10 seconds of footage - two seconds of the tantrum and eight seconds of handcuffing," he said. "Completely taken out of context, but that is the media's way."
He ran like hell when the little monster came on the scene!
Also in Florida, the case of a well-behaved boy - who only wanted to bring water to Terri Schiavo and therefore was handcuffed and taken away - received hardly any attention.
Pinellas County School supervisor also said that the mother had told the school they had better not ever lay a hand on her daughter. This child has a history of disruption at school.
The principal tried to deal with the child with her training in crisis prevention but couldn't, so tried to call the school police who were busy with something else and couldn't go help, so she called the city police who had been called another time for this same child.
The first time, the police had only talked to her, and had told her they didn't want to be there but if they were called again they would have to put her in handcuffs.
Why.... That's CHILD ABUSE!
I didn't find the video all that "wrenching".
Also on Monday came the prospect that the Rev. Al Sharpton would be coming to town. The famous New York crusader...
Now this, I find "wrenching".
The mother is fleeing the state to avoid prosecution.
Regarding the cuffing, the girl was a danger to herself and others by struggling to avoid confinement. The cops had a difficult call and made a correct decision. It is not at all clear the girl was not drugged up in addition to being super honery.
If she had been allowed to continue her tantrum and injured herself or another the school district would have been in even deper trouble.
I watched the video - they DID contact the mother & she said she couldn't come till after 3. This is just insane. If I'd acted like that in kindergarten, the teacher would have put me over her knee, popped my butt, and that would have been that. I don't think I've ever seen a kid who literally needed a pop worse that this one - she worked herself into hysterics, daring the ineffective 'teachers' to stop her, and they legally couldn't. Three quick smacks would have stopped that tantrum, and traumatized her a lot less than being taken away in handcuffs.
School calls you and says your child in out of control "again".
You say I will be right there in 1 and 1/2 hour - what gives with that?
Probably could not get off work?
If Al Carpton comes to town to meet poor, little, abused Jaklesia, I hope she whollops him up side the head....in front of 18 zillion cameras.
Once the mom forbade the school to touch her child, she made the cuffing almost inevitable.
Consider how hard it is to handle even a small cat who doesn't want to be handled. To subdue a fractious child without physically harming her is no picnic. And if the kid is used to getting her own way, she's not going to go quietly when someone starts clueing her in on the facts of life.
Padded restraints might have been better, if any were on hand, but compared to causing the child so much pain that she had to comply, to clubbing her or tazing her, I think restraining her with cuffs isn't too bad.
Mind you, I come to this with the esperience of being in a 45 minute battle of wills with a darling litte 5 year old girl who had never had to do a thing for herself. I asked her to take her coat off. She told me to take it off. And the race was on. 45 minutes, tears, and tantrums later, she unbuttoned her coat and joined her playmates. (Two days later she told me she wanted to marry me!)
My wife currently is dealing with a 7 year old girl who has basically wasted an entire school year for her classmates. The school's hands are tied.
And then there's the time when my wife came home with a perfect imprint of a juvenile dental arch -- uppers and lowers -- on her lower arm. I personally would have charged the child with assault and battery, but that's because I'm not a nice person.
Nope, handcuffs are modest and judicious.
Saw Trevena on Fox yesterday morning. He fits the stereotype of every ambulance-chasing contingency-based piece of filth you can conjure up.
The Brits have a law against barratry (lawyers looking for and cooking up cases) - it is sorely needed here.
Hilarious that after refusing to answer questions directly for hours on TV, he got the heave.
Have you noticed how some people respond to a camera pointing at them? They absolutely have to act up, regardless of age.
Al will probably rub some feces on her and put her in a garbage back and then blame the cops!
I so, completely disagree. If someone decides to label her because of her name that is their problem. My daughter's name is what could be considered ethnic and I hate to brag again on FR but she is an gifted honor student, plays viola in the school orchestra, excels at field hockey and has been invited to attend the Govenor's Science and Math camp this summer. American culture is made up a variety of ethnicities and cultures and all should be appreciated. If anything, Ja'eisha's only handicap is her mothers lack of caring. Not her name.
Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Not that I'm a big fan of public school or anything, but if you're going to run one, children must be disciplined.
...but they retired early from teaching because of the lack of respect from the students, and the principal's lack of support when things got out of control...
.....and the principal's hands were tied because of all the rules and regulations regarding how a student can be or cannot be disciplined.
So therefore, even for my liberal in-laws, the inmates ruled the asylum, and the in-laws wanted out!
I hope they realize the 'cause and effect'.
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