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School security officer accused of abusing 9-year-old with autism

Investigators say it happened at Knights Elementary School in Plant City.
Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

PLANT CITY, Fla. — A Hillsborough County school security officer is charged with physically abusing a child with autism.

Deputies say they were contacted Wednesday by teachers who said they saw 57-year-old school security officer Michael Lashman become violent with a 9-year-old student at Knights Elementary School in Plant City. The child had just been calmed by educators after becoming verbally disruptive a few minutes earlier, investigators said. But, authorities say Officer Lashman confronted the student.

"Witnesses describe Lashman aggressively restraining the victim and pulling them into the building. At that time, the victim's body struck a doorway. Multiple teachers witnessed the school security officer push the child against a wall once inside the building," the sheriff's office wrote in a news release.

According to law enforcement, the child suffered swelling on the back of the head but did not require medical attention. After interviews with the student and school staff, a warrant was issued for Lashman's arrest. Deputies say he turned himself in Thursday night at the Orient Road Jail. 

"I am horrified by this man's cruelty toward a child," Sheriff Chad Chronister wrote in a statement. "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."

Lashman faces one count of child abuse.

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