West Mifflin, Penn., community members called for the firing of two police officers caught on video last month violently yanking back the head of a 15-year-old girl on a school bus.
The outcry against the officers has been building throughout the week, starting with a council meeting on Tuesday, reports KDKA-TV.
“You have two grown men with a 15-year-old black girl bear-hugging her, pulling her hair, and her blood is squirting on her classmates,” Fawn Walker-Montgomery, founder of Take Action Mon Valley, said at the council meeting, the Pittsburgh Gazette-Post reports.
The confrontation between officers and the teenager took place on Dec. 18, after the bus driver called police to intervene in a fight between two girls. Video taken from the bus shows the two officers pinning one girl against the window before one of the cops violently jerks her head back by pulling on her braids. Around them, other students on the bus plead with the officers to let go of their classmate.
(Because it shows what appears to be the brutal assault of a minor, and because the girl in question is quite visible, I have deep reservations about furthering her trauma by embedding the video onto this site. However, the video is posted here if you feel the need to see it.)
Walker-Montgomery and others are calling for officials to fire Sgt. Christopher Mordaunt and Officer Tommy Trieu, as well as drop the charges against the teenage girl. The district’s superintendent told KDKA several weeks ago that one of the girls—presumably the one on video—“made contact with the officer’s jaw/chin” prior to the start of recording.
But Walker-Montgomery isn’t buying it.
“There’s nothing you could tell me that would excuse a 15-year-old child being assaulted like that,” she said. She and other community members are planning to keep up their campaign, speaking to the press on Wednesday and stopping by a West Mifflin school board meeting on Thursday.
“We’re asking for everyone who is available to advocate,” said Walker-Montgomery. “I think it’s sad that it’s become almost normal for these things to happen, but we’re not going to accept that.”
The girl’s family attorney, Paul Jubas, released the video on his Instagram last month with the caption, “They sprayed her blood all over her fellow students and incited riot-like conditions on a school bus. Everything was calm on this bus until these officers began their vicious assault. To make matters worse, other videos prove they lied in their affidavit of probable cause.”
This week, however, Jubas declined to make further comments about the case as he waits for an early February juvenile court hearing.
But Phil DiLucente, West Mifflin borough solicitor, maintains that the officers involved didn’t do anything wrong. He told the Post-Gazette he couldn’t comment further until outside agencies finished their independent review of the case.