Mom stunned at DARE officer's response to incident

Cary Ashby • May 6, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Jennifer Bowman is shocked how a DARE officer handled her 6-year-old son being bullied.

The Norwalk mother said she can't believe Norwalk Police officer Dave Daniels told her son it was his fault an older boy retaliated for an assault on his sister by threatening to hurt him. The officer also recommended Bowman's son "stay hidden" in the house for several days.

"The way Daniels handled it was absurd," Bowman said.

Daniels, however, said he never told Bowman's son that what happened was his fault. The patrolman also said the boy wasn't bullied, since bullying is something that happens over a period of time.

"None of these juveniles" handled the situation correctly, Daniels added.

Bowman's son had to stay home from Maplehurst Elementary to heal for two days after a 10-year-old boy and about three other juveniles attacked her son at a playground near her apartment. She said the older boy had threatened her son at the bus stop about a week after her son admitted he hit the older boy's sister with a wiffle-ball bat. The sister is accused of having bullied Bowman's son for several weeks beforehand.

On April 16, Bowman said her son stood up to a girl who had been cursing and yelling at him by hitting her with a wiffle-ball bat. The girl, a neighbor, is three or four years older and is accused of bullying Bowman's son for a couple weeks before the wiffle-ball bat incident.

"He had had enough," Bowman said.

After her son told her about the incident and apologized, Bowman grounded him by prohibiting from using the Internet and Xbox or watching television for two days. She also didn't allow him to go outside.

On April 22 -- six days after the wiffle-ball bat incident, a 10-year-old boy who lives with the girl reportedly threatened Bowman's son. It's unclear if the boy is the girl's brother.

The boy said "if he hit anybody with a bat, he'd break down his door and beat the bleep out of him," Bowman said.

Also, she said the boy reportedly pushed her son to the ground when they got off the school bus.

That afternoon, after Bowman's son did his homework and had dinner, he asked his baby-sitter if he could go out and play. Bowman, who was at work at the time, said as soon as her son got to the grassy area of the playground area of the apartment complex, four or five children tackled him and attacked him by hitting her son, kicking him and poking him with sticks.

"(One boy) picked him up and slammed him to the ground twice," Bowman said. "The kids (who) are doing it are flat-out mean and rude always."

After the incident, her son returned home and told his baby-sitter what happened and "his stomach hurt," the mother said. When she returned home from work, she learned her son had thrown up once.

"He had bruises all down his arms," added Bowman, who said her son also had a bruise on his leg and scratches on his arm and ribs.

"His black eye is nearly gone," the mother said last week. "He was in pain for a couple days -- there's no doubt about that."

Bowman later went to one of the parents' homes. She said the mother told her she didn't see the playground incident, but her 5-year-old son reported the assault had been pre-planned.

"She disciplined her son and apologized to me. Her son had already apologized to (my son)," Bowman said.

Bowman then went to the home of the boy's father and when she asked to talk to someone, the father's girlfriend declined to come to the door. Bowman said the father had said he didn't know what happened.

Next, Bowman said she wanted the parents of the children to come to her apartment and talk, but "they wouldn't come down." She said one parent simply referred her to the police department if she wanted to report the incident.

"I was trying to handle it with the parents," Bowman added.

Eventually, Daniels came to her door and Bowman explained what reportedly happened. She said the DARE's officer first responded by saying what happened to her son was an act of retaliation and later said police couldn't prosecute the juveniles because they are younger than 12.

"He proceeded to tell (my son) he shouldn't hit people with a bat ever," Bowman said.

Daniels also reportedly told her it was best if her son had stayed inside until the situation calmed down. Bowman said it was impossible to know the 10-year-old boy would threaten her son six days after the wiffle-ball bat incident -- much less that he'd be assaulted by several children.

"That shouldn't have been said in front of a child because it gives my son a free pass," Bowman said, referring to the inability to pursue charges. "It goes against everything I taught him."

Daniels said he never told Bowman's son that what happened was his fault.

"I explained to him what the word retaliation meant," he said. "And I explained to him that you can't hit anybody."

"None of these juveniles were right," Daniels said, adding he told the other youngsters that they can't fight.

Daniels, however, said Bowman's son wasn't bullied; bullying is something that happens over a period of time.

The patrolman said the police department doesn't charge juveniles. He added he will send a report to the juvenile prosecutor to review.

Bowman said she later received an apology from Capt. Dave Smith, who reportedly admitted he told Daniels about the inability to prosecute the other children and Daniels "overshared" by sharing that information with her. Bowman had been unable to talk to Chief Dave Light, so police had referred her to Smith, whom she said she talked to on the phone for 36 minutes.

Editor's note: Reflector reporter Aaron Krause contributed to this story.

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