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Kansas Cop Allowed to Keep His License After Being Fired for Hog Tying and Tasing an Autistic Foster Child

by Jo Ellen Nott

On February 23, 2022, Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Honas “used excessive force multiple times” on a 12-year-old autistic boy who was running away from foster care.  The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (“KCPOST”) officially reprimanded Honas on August 22, 2022, but did not revoke his certification to work in law enforcement.

Honas was fired in March 2022 after the incident where he shoved, elbowed the boy, and then hog-tied him. Honas had been employed by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office from August 2006 to March 3, 2022, and earned $23.55 an hour as a deputy, according to Jackson County Commission records.

The incident was not the first time Honas had interacted with the autistic child. Records show Honas had previously struggled with the boy on another occasion but did not make a report nor wear his body camera. On February 23, Honas did not wear his body cam yet again, but his dashcam recorded the interaction.  

In the reprimand issued by KSCPOST, the oversight body was most concerned that Honas wanted to punish the child.  An excerpt from the reprimand details that Honas: 

“Hog-tied L.H., threatening his ability to breathe properly.

Applied ‘pain compliance’ without giving direction to the boy regarding what he was supposed to do.

Told the boy, ‘When the other guy gets here, you’re going to hurt more.’

Told the boy he would tase him again if he did anything he was not supposed to do.”

Used inappropriate language, include profanity.

Criminal justice reform advocates note a concerning trend of law enforcement using excessive force against children and people with special needs.  In April 2021, police in Rochester, New York, handcuffed and pepper-sprayed a nine-year-old girl in the middle of a mental health crisis as she was crying hysterically.

Resource officers in public schools are tasked with preventing or mitigating school shootings. Data show their presence frequently leads to more children being suspended, expelled, and arrested.  In September 2018, a school resource officer in North Carolina put a seven-year-old boy in handcuffs, taunted him, and pinned him to the ground for 40 minutes. The boy, overwhelmed by the comings and goings in his classroom, had been spitting inside his special-needs school in Statesville, N.C.

The Marshall Project noted in 2021 that over the previous decade, 23 people died after being hogtied by police. Of those, 13 were “mentally ill or in mental crises.”

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