School Resource Officer Suspended for Choking Black Student

Illustration for article titled School Resource Officer Suspended for Choking Black Student
Screenshot: Facebook (Aurianna Mitchell)

An Arkansas police officer has been relieved of duty after authorities saw disturbing footage of him fulfilling his duties by choking a black high school student.

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On Monday, Facebook users Auriana Mitchell posted a disturbing video of a Camden, Ark., school resource officer physically restraining a student by wrapping his arms around the student’s neck and lifting him off the ground. The officer, identified by Camden Police Department Chief Boyd Woody as Jake Perry, had been assigned to Camden Fairview High School for a month before the incident.

The 23-second clip begins with the young black man already in a chokehold. Although the teen doesn’t appear to physically resist, the officer lifts the student off of his feet and holds him in the air for a few seconds as other students casually walk by and laugh in the background of what appears to be the cafeteria.

“As Police Chief, I will not tolerate misconduct from my officers,” Woody said in a statement. “[T]this matter will be dealt with accordingly and I will be transparent in doing so.”

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The Democrat-Gazette reports:

Woody said that he had seen the video posted to Facebook, that he had spoken to Perry, and that the officer had given statements to investigators. A Criminal Investigation Division captain has been assigned to the investigation.

Woody said that the student and his parent will also come in for interviews and that he has officers already at the high school working to get footage. He confirmed that Perry was wearing a body camera but said that he hadn’t seen the footage.

After the investigation is complete, the findings will go to the mayor and be made public, the chief said. He said the use of force in the video appeared to be “excessive.”

Woody said that Perry has been with the police department for two or three years. The officer told the chief that he was responding to a report of a fight and was trying to detain the student, Woody said.

In a statement, Camden Fairview School District Superintendent Fred Lily also said the district was aware of the incident and planned to “fully cooperate with the CPD’s investigation.”

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DISCUSSION

My mother still works in Special Ed. in NYC and sometimes when a child (especially one who is larger than most children) becomes physically violent they employ the Prone, Basket or Supine Holds. These restraining methods are board approved in extreme circumstances. They do not place pressure on vital organs or airways and protect the staff from harm. A choke hold on the other hand is a combative tactic and causes harm to vital organs and airways. Police are NOT a substitute for trained staff and caregivers and should NOT be stationed in schools like a prison guard.