Video (below) of a police officer from La Mesa, California, who allegedly slammed an arrested high school student to the ground has sparked outrage, with community members calling for the officer's removal.
The incident took place at Helix Charter High School at about 1:30 p.m. The interaction between the student and the officer is what has been captured in the 30-second video. The clip shows only part of what happened. This video has been widely shared on social media.
Angry students, parents and community members planned to protest against this incident at the campus of the school on Monday morning.
Officers were called into the school when a 17-year-old student, who had been suspended, refused to leave, the chief of the La Mesa police, Walt Vasquez said in a statement.
When a school resource officer tried to make the girl leave on her own, and then ordered her to leave, she refused to comply and would not cooperate with the resource officer. The officer then handcuffed the girl and began escorting her to the school’s office, said Vasquez.
“As they were walking, the student became noncompliant on two separate occasions and made an attempt to free herself by pulling away from the officer,” said the chief of the police. “To prevent the student from escaping, the officer forced the student to the ground.”
In the video that captured the incident, the officer is seen throwing the girl over his shoulder onto the concrete sidewalk. Then, he can be seen using his body weight to pin her down to the ground.
The police said the student suffered minor abrasions because of the incident. She was evaluated by paramedics at the police station where it was determined that she didn’t require any treatment for the injuries.
On behalf of the girl’s family, Aeiramique Blake said the incident had been portrayed inaccurately by the police. The girl was reportedly believed to have been high on drugs, but when the teacher searched the girl's bag, she found pepper spray. Pepper spray is not allowed on campus and is considered a weapon.
When she refused to hand over the spray to the person in charge, the disagreement escalated and the police became involved. Blake went on to say that, as per the girl, it was her sister, who is also a student of the same school, made the video of the entire incident.
“No matter what was done or not done, that was not the appropriate way to handle a young lady,” said Blake, “the community is completely outraged.”
Students, parents and other community members are expected to ask that the police officer not be allowed to patrol any other schools in the future.
Police investigators will also be checking the video as a part of their review of the incident.
“As a protocol with all incidents involving use of force, the La Mesa Police Department will be conducting a detailed review of the force used and of the entire incident. Helix High School officials are also fully aware of the facts surrounding the incident,” said Vasquez.