Note: we are republishing this story amid nationwide discussion regarding police accountability and the relationship between police officers and their communities.
On Thursday, a chaotic fight erupted at Homestead Senior School, with video following the fight showing an 18-year-old student kicking a Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police Department officer in the face.
The officer had responded to the scene following a report about five girls fighting during lunch time.
The video shows 18-year-old Shardae Yvonne Pittman trying to defend her friend, who was pinned face-down on the floor by the officer. Pittman first pushed the officer, and when he didn’t budge, she kept trying.
She was being held back by a man who appeared to be a teacher, but she was relentless.
When the officer pushed her away from him, Pittman responded by kicking him in the face.
John Shuster, a spokesman for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, stated that the officer was not hospitalized.
Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, a spokeswoman for the district, said in a statement: "Any behavior that endangers the well-being of students and staff at Miami-Dade County Public Schools will not be tolerated, will be handled swiftly and result in severe consequences."
According to a police report, the officer was identified as Officer Zapico.
In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday night, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez said: "It is a shame that while this officer was attempting to break up a fight and maintain a safe learning environment, this adult student acted in a cowardly way."
According to police, Pittman had not been part of the initial fight.
Sharnell Lee, the mother of the 17-year-old girl who was pinned down, revealed that Pittman was her daughter's friend. Lee arrived at the school to demand answers and later picked up her daughter from a juvenile facility.
She called for authorities to charge the girls who attacked her daughter.
She said: "My daughter comes to school, she is supposed to be safe. Where was the security? Where was everybody when [the fight] took place? Why did she get in trouble? Why would a police officer have my daughter on the ground and allow the other young lady to spit in her face?"
Four of the girls who participated in the fight will face disciplinary action.
Lee's daughter and Pittman both face battery on a law enforcement officer charge. Pittman was also charged with educational interference.