Jonathan Abel
St. Petersburg Times
February 14, 2009

LARGO — Police this week removed an unruly 7-year-old from his classroom and forced him to be hospitalized under the state’s Baker Act — against the wishes of his outraged parents.

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The boy spent the night alone at Morton Plant Hospital before he was seen by a child psychologist the next day and discharged.

“This is a total abuse of police power,” said the boy’s father, Richard Smith, 41. “My son has no mental health problems. He’s never hurt himself. He’s never hurt anyone else.”

Smith and his wife, Barbara, said they want to consult a lawyer.

But Largo deputy police Chief John Carroll said his officers did the right thing.

By all accounts, the second-grader threw a tantrum at Mildred Helms Elementary on Wednesday. Carroll said the boy tore up the room during his fit. In the process, he stepped on a teacher’s foot and “battered” a school administrator.

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