Student Cuffed for Desk Doodling Sues City for $1M

Not the first time a student seeks justice for excessive force

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bryan Prace/NY Daily News
    Alexa Gonzalez, a student Junior High School 190 in Forest Hills, Queens, was handcuffed and detained at police precinct for doodling on her desk with erasable marker. Courtesy NY Daily News

    A 12-year-old Queens junior high student who was hauled off in handcuffs for doodling on her desk earlier this year intends to file a $1 million lawsuit against the city for excessive force.

    Alexa Gonzalez was arrested in February for scribbling, "Lex was here 2/1/10" and "I love my friends Abby and Faith" in washable marker on her desk at Junior High School 190 in Forest Hills.

    According to her mother, Moraima Camacho, Alexa was led out of school and walked to the precinct across the street where she was held for several hours.

    An attorney for Alexa and her mother filed legal papers accusing the city of using excessive force against Alexa and trampling on her civil rights. The family's lawyer, Joseph Rosenthal, says school officials overreacted by calling the police. Rosenthal told the Daily News his clients are suing to prevent similar ordeals from befalling other students in the future.

    City lawyers declined comment on the lawsuit. Previously, Department of Education officials acknowledged the arrest was made in error.

    David Cantor, spokesman for the education department, said at the time that the incident "shouldn't have happened" and "common sense should prevail."

    The suit claims authorities subjected Alexa to abusive treatment even before they hauled her out of school in handcuffs in front of her classmates. Court papers allege she was "physically dragged by a teacher and an assistant principal" to the dean's office and that school officials conducted an inappropriate search of her person, reports the News.

    The notice, which also names the NYPD, claims police handcuffed Alexa to a pole in "an enclosed room" at the stationhouse for at least two hours, reports the News

    Other students have sued the city in the past for excessive force. Chelsea Fraser and her family filed suit after the then 13-year-old was arrested at her Dyker Heights School for writing, "okay" on her desk.

    Last month, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful arrests and assault by school safety officers.