A Kansas sheriff deputy hogtied, tased, and used painful compliance techniques on an autistic child who ran away from foster care last February.
Deputy Matthew Honas was dispatched following a report that the child had run away from home. Though it’s unclear what events transpired before this, Honas reportedly tied up the child, identified as L.H. to protect his identity, in a way that threatened his ability to breathe properly.
Honas also used expletives and threatened L.H. during the encounter, according to the summary order of reprimand report, which was made public by the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training.
“Cut it out. Do you understand? Fucking quit,” he told the boy at one point during the arrest, according to the report. “When the other guy gets here, you’re going to hurt more.”
But Honas denied backup: The deputy refused and canceled assistance from other available officers in the area, and failed to call a transport vehicle, two decisions the commission said compounded the officer’s “unreasonableness.”
The report states that at one point, as the child sat in the back of the police car without resisting, the officer began to use pain compliance techniques, pressing specific pressure points on the child’s jaw for seemingly no reason, the report stated. Minutes later, the officer tased the child without warning as he sat in the back seat with his feet outside the vehicle.
“[Honas] did not use de-escalation techniques or other means to persuade the child to comply,” the report stated.
Honas’ actions were caught on the in-car camera of his police vehicle and the report is based on the in-car camera footage.
"At the time, L.H. was handcuffed behind his back, had ankle shackles on, and had the handcuffs connected to the ankle shackles," the report states. "L.H. was not a threat to the respondent or other officers."
The report determined that most of his actions served no point other than to punish the minor.
“Respondent used excessive force multiple times throughout his contact with L.H.,” stated the report. “Respondent struggled with, shoved, elbowed, applied pressure points, carried, pulled, ‘hog tied,’ and ultimately tased L.H.”
Honas was discharged from his post just a little over a week after the incident, and the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training reprimanded him in August. But the commission decided against preventing him from becoming a police officer ever again, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported Tuesday.
Honas had encountered the child before the incident and was aware that he was autistic. During the prior encounter, the two had a physical struggle, but the report does not go into details.
Honas is an 11-year veteran of the sheriff’s office and had a five-year stint as a part-time deputy between 2013 and 2018. While his actions against the child were seen as excessive, Topeka Capital-Journal reported that a legal counsel for the the commission declined to elaborate on why they stopped short of a more severe punishment. The commission also declined to make the footage from the encounter public.
While Honas avoided having his officer certification revoked, several states, including California, Virginia, and Massachusetts have passed laws preventing officers who commit felonies, hate crimes, and other heinous acts like using excessive force from earning their gun and badge elsewhere after they’re fired.