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A human rights tribunal has ordered a police force west of Toronto to pay $35,000 in damages four years after two officers handcuffed a six-year-old Black girl at her school and held her on her stomach for nearly a half hour.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario says the Peel Regional Police Board has until mid-February to pay the girl’s mother in trust for counselling fees and injury to dignity, feelings and self respect.

The penalty comes nearly a year after the tribunal found police had breached the girl’s human rights.

In her penalty decision dated Dec. 31, 2020, Brenda Bowlby says the two officers had “no training in dealing with children in crises,” but were called in to handle a situation with the girl that the school hadn’t been able to manage in September of 2016.

She says the girl tried to get away from the officers, biting and scratching at them, and officers eventually handcuffed her, with her hands behind her back.

Bowlby notes that the girl was a “small six-year-old,” weighing only 48 pounds, compared to the officers, who were both six feet tall and weighed between 190 and 200 pounds each.

She says the officers overreacted, and pointed to expert testimony that racial bias likely played a role in their response.

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