Family Claims Excessive Force Used at Anoka Treatment Facility

July 22, 2016 09:17 AM

A teenager and her mother say excessive force was used while the 17-year-old was seeking mental health treatment at an Anoka facility.

"She has a fractured orbital, she suffered a concussion, she has bruises and scrapes," her mother, Meagan Ferrell, said.

Ferrell says her daughter, Katelin, was seeking treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and addiction through the Anoka County Long Term Treatment program because the county couldn't find an open bed for the 17-year-old at any of its mental health facilities.

"While I didn't think it was an ideal placement, it was the only place available at the time. I didn't realize it was the absolute wrong place for Katelin to be," said Ferrell.

On Monday, the teenager says she expressed frustrations with peers and staff members that she didn't think she was getting the help she needed. Soon after, she says five staff members used excessive force to take her to the ground.

"They took me so hard to the ground that it broke blood vessels in the other eye," Kaitlin said. "How am I supposed to trust people that have been trying to tell me for a month that I'm supposed to feel safe there and I can talk to anyone yet I get thrown to the ground by five staff and screamed at just for trying to express how I felt?"

Ferrell's mother says Katelin was left at the facility for 17 hours before getting medical attention.

"They said that she would not lower her voice and that her hands were not directly at her side," said Ferrell, recounting what she says Anoka County Corrections told her regarding her daughter's injuries and treatment.

Anoka County Corrections can't comment on incidents involving juveniles but sent us the following statement:

The mission of the Anoka County Corrections department is to create a safer community and to operate juvenile facilities that have an atmosphere of care, honesty and respect. These values are instilled in our employees, and they are reflected in the decisions we make and the policies we implement. Caring for children who find themselves in one of our detention facilities is a responsibility we take very seriously. Our staff are well-trained professionals who receive ongoing instruction, starting with an initial training academy and followed by annual courses addressing topics such as de-escalation, restraint, and use of force.

Our goal is always to use the least restrictive measures possible to ensure a safe and secure living environment at our facilities. At any detention facility, though, situations arise where the least restrictive measure still involves the use of restraint or force. These measures are employed sparingly and only when necessary to protect the safety and wellbeing of staff and residents, alike. When this occurs, each restraint is reviewed, evaluated, and processed internally to ensure that polices were followed. Even when policy is followed, injuries can occur in restraint and force situations. In these rare cases, medical attention is provided, and notice of the event is made to law enforcement, child protective services, and the Minnesota Department of Corrections, which typically conduct their own independent reviews.

Anoka County is bound by privacy regulations and cannot comment on any specific incident at one of our juvenile facilities. But the public should know that we employ the least restrictive measures possible to enhance safety for residents and staff at our detention facilities.

Anoka County is investigating the incident. The Farrells want an independent, outside investigation to be conducted as well and have asked the Office of the Ombudsman to get involved.



Katherine Johnson

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