FAU News Palm Beach County Schools

Officer Larry Mackey Handcuffed Child With Autism At Omni Middle

Mackey Joined Palm Beach County School District Days After Internal Affairs Reprimand At FAU

BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher


BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The Palm Beach County School District police officer who handcuffed and attempted to “Baker Act” an 11-year-old child with Autism at Omni Middle School — and is accused by the boy’s guardian of misstating facts in a police report — was cited for “untruthfulness” by the Professional Standards Committee and reprimanded for “neglect of duty” by the Internal Affairs Division of Florida Atlantic University’s police department.

BocaNewsNow.com obtained Officer Larry C. Mackey’s employment file through a Florida Statute 119 public records demand served upon FAU, Mackey’s employer until days before he joined the Palm Beach County School District police force.

The FAU Police Department is an accredited police force with the same powers and responsibilities as a municipal law enforcement agency.

According to his employment file, Officer Mackey was told of his official reprimand on July 25th, 2019. He resigned four days later through an email stating that “my resignation is in good standings and on my own accord.” Mackey cited the need to take care of an ill parent as the reason for his need to quit. But the timing is notable. Mackey’s resignation email was sent just two days before the official letter of reprimand was placed in his file for apparently missing work and fabricating a reason why.

officer Larry Mackey
[Officer Larry C. Mackey (Courtesy FAU)]

As BocaNewsNow.com first reported exclusively last month, Officer Mackey, assigned to Omni Middle School in Boca Raton, handcuffed an 11-year-old boy with Autism who was allegedly fighting off bullies. Mackey attempted to “Baker Act” the boy who we are identifying as “Erik.” Mackey transported Erik, handcuffed in his police car, to JFK Medical Center North, where medical staffers determined Erik was no threat to himself or others and released him within roughly an hour. He was never admitted. BocaNewsNow.com reviewed the discharge documents.

A day after the incident — and after BocaNewsNow.com’s initial reporting — Mackey allegedly added to his police report the claim that Erik stood in front a school bus and said “I want to die.” BocaNewsNow.com has been unable to corroborate the school bus claim with witnesses or school officials. No one apparently saw it. A school police supervisor allegedly called the boy’s guardian, Larissa Leander, to tell her that it was now in the report. The School District has not released the police report.

[Omni Middle School student Erik, 11, was handcuffed and taken to JFK Medical Center as a “Baker Act” confinement].

Leander said Erik didn’t attempt anything, other than to protect himself from bullies.

“Erik wouldn’t understand the idea of ‘suicidal.’ He is really very immature and a very innocent, happy child.”

Leander suggested Mackey is fabricating the report to justify his handcuffing of the 11-year-old boy living with Autism.

The Palm Beach County School District on Thursday told BocaNewsNow.com that Mackey remains employed and is not facing discipline for Erik’s handcuffing and failed Baker Act admission. But the School District did not respond to questions about the FAU Internal Affairs reprimand.

It is unclear if the Palm Beach County School District Police Department — in a rush to hire police officers at the start of the 2019-2020 school year — ran a complete background check on Mackey. The School District will not comment on what it knew of the Internal Affairs investigation, or whether it routinely hires police officers who are officially reprimanded for “neglect” and cited by a Professional Standards Committee for “untruthfulness.”

Officer Mackey joined the FAU Police Department in 2016, but resigned a year later to complete military service. He returned at the start of the 2018 school year, only to resign in July of 2019. Mackey received one commendation during his employment — he stayed with an accident victim in Broward County until BSO arrived at the scene. That victim called the Florida Atlantic University police department to praise Mackey’s actions.

Despite several requests by BocaNewsNow.com, Palm Beach County School District Police Chief Frank Kitzerow has refused to comment on Officer Mackey’s actions at Omni Middle School.


Paul Saperstein


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