Dnigma Howard's attorneys say they want to send a message to the police, the schools, the mayor of Chicago and the next mayor that more needs to be done when it comes to officers in public schools and how they handle people who may be in emotional distress.
Disturbing video shows Howard, a Marshall High School student, fighting with police after they used a stun gun on her and they tumbled down the stairs together. It was all part of a dispute over a cell phone.
"It would have been different if they would have handled it different," Howard told NBC 5 in January. "Forcefully doing it is not it at all."
Now, almost a month later, Howard’s parents are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police officers involved, the board of education and the city of Chicago, her lawyer Andrew M. Stroth said.
"If you watch the video and study the tape, the truth is far different from what was reported," he said. "Dnigma was attacked."
Charges were eventually dropped against the 16-year-old, who attorneys say was having a mental health or behavioral crisis at the time.
They say the school and the officers failed to follow the IEP or independent educational protocol developed for her for her situation.
"Instead of following that protocol, the Chicago police officers stationed at that school were summoned and what happened next, Dnigma was kicked, she was punched with a closed fist, she was tackled and brought down a stairwell, then she was tased three times," Stroth said.
Now, her father, Laurentio Howard, says she is attending a new school.
"Right now my daughter has a long recovery ahead of her, she’s traumatized," he said. "She is at another school now and we are working with her to get her focused and back to school."
They are hoping this lawsuit will help shape the conversation and the policy for how students with IEPs are disciplined.
A spokesperson says the city has yet to see the lawsuit and its policy is not to comment on pending litigation.