The sheriff’s department in Osceola County, Fla., is investigating an incident at a high school in which a school resource officer is seen on camera slamming a Black teen to the ground and, apparently, knocking her unconscious before handcuffing her while she lay motionless. While there isn’t a wealth of information as to what led up to the altercation, it serves as a reminder of why many people are uncomfortable with the idea of cops being called to handle issues in schools—particularly, when Black students are involved.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Department told TMZ that the incident, which took place Tuesday at Liberty High School in Kissimmee, started with the stopping of a school fight. The officer—who is a sheriff’s deputy—was trying to stop the student he slammed to the ground from fighting another student, according to the department, which said that its “office is in the initial stages of our investigation. We are collecting video, witness statements, and relevant information related to the incident.”
Video footage of the incident recorded by another student has since gone viral on social media.
Loulu Nevy, the sister of an unidentified 16-year-old student who witnessed the altercation, told Fox 35 that the student “was already separated and under control by one of the faculty members when the officer came out of nowhere, picked her up and body-slammed her headfirst onto the concrete.”
In the video, witnesses can be heard reacting in shock as the student was slammed to the ground and as the officer pulled her arms back to handcuff her. One bystander can be heard shouting, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” at the deputy.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, no information has been released as to the student’s condition. The investigation is still ongoing so there’s no telling if anyone involved in the altercation will face any kind of charges, but here’s what the sheriff’s department’s use of force policy says as reported by the Sentinel:
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office’s use of force policy dictates officers use “the minimal amount of force necessary to perform official duties.”
It further states deputies should only use force in certain situations when the person has not responded to verbal commands, including in cases of self-defense, when defending someone or when there is a “credible threat to public safety.”
Deputies’ responses to situations are evaluated by the sheriff’s command staff in context, taking into account factors like the person’s size, age and physical ability, according to the policy. Deputies are required to report incidents that result in injuries to their supervisors and file an incident report for review.
So, we’ll have to wait until the investigation concludes to find out if it was determined that the officer used “the minimal amount of force necessary” in his handling of the Black student—but it’s hard to imagine that this isn’t just another case of police brutality and an indication that the calling in of police officers to handle school incidents isn’t always the answer.