Plant City school security guard accused of abusing student with autism

Hillsborough County

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – A security officer at a Plant City school is accused of violently restraining and shoving a 9-year-old boy with autism, causing the child to suffer a minor head injury, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Lashman, 57, a security officer at Knights Elementary School, was arrested Thursday night on a charge of physically abusing a child with autism.

According to deputies, the child had become verbally disruptive at school on Wednesday. Though teachers were able to calm him down, deputies said Lashman became aware of the incident and decided to confront the boy.

Witnessses told deputies he aggressively restrained the boy and pulled him into a building, causing him to run into a doorway, then he shoved the boy into a wall.

The impact caused the boy to suffer minor swelling on the back of his head, but he did not require medical attention, deputies said.

Teachers contacted the sheriff’s office after witnessing the incident, and Lashman turned himself into the Hillsborough County Jail on Thursday night.

“I am horrified by this man’s cruelty toward a child,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Hired by the school district to protect our most precious citizens, this school security officer abused his authority to cause bodily harm and emotional distress to a student. I applaud the teachers who witnessed this violent encounter and reported it immediately.”

Reyna Torres, whose first grade son has autism, told 8 On Your Side she and her son had a run-in with Lashman over a backpack.

“He’s like, ‘no, no, no, no, no, he needs to carry it himself. He needs to walk!’ And I’m like, you’re not helping,” she explained.

She said she was happy to hear that Lashman had been taken out of the school.

Superintendent Addison Davis said he appreciates the teachers who stepped in to help when they saw something wrong.

“I applaud every one of our staff members when they see any adult or any child causing harm to one another, to be able to report that immediately,” Davis said.

Lashman was released on a surety bond Friday morning.

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