On March 29, Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio was the scene of a disturbing video appeared to show a young girl being slammed to the floor by a police officer. The San Antonio school district began an investigation soon after the video was released.
ABC News reports that the video shows Officer Joshua Kehm lifting the girl from behind, turning, and then throwing her on the floor. The officer handcuffs the student while she is laying on the floor face-down, lifts her up, and walks her away.
A spokeswoman for the district, Leslie Price, said Kehm began working as a school district police officer in February of 2015.
The incident at the charter school occurred on a Tuesday and was posted on YouTube that night, which is when school officials heard of the event for the first time.
Kehm, while the investigation takes place, will be taking a paid leave.
“Officers are trained for a variety of scenarios but we will not tolerate any excessive force,” Price said. “All we know at this point is it seems like the incident began with two students having a verbal altercation.”
The student’s mother, Gloria Valdez, said the way her 12-year-old daughter was treated by the San Antonio Independent School District officer was not necessary. Valdez shared that her girl was accused of threatening the officer by kicking him, but Valdez added that she could see from the video that her child’s leg “never went up.”
Roma Villavicencio of KENS-TV reports the girl did not want to be photographed but said she was conversing with another girl when the two were surrounded by a crowd of students. At this time, the officer grabbed her. Valdez said the slam knocked her out.
Her mother noted that she does not remember being handcuffed and arrested, and she was bruised when her face hit the cement floor.
“I just want justice for my daughter,” Valdez said. “How do we know this officer won’t do it again to another student.”
Although the girls never had an altercation, Kehm said he believed that a fight was about to occur. Students’ laughter can be heard on the video when Kehm pulled Valdez’s arms behind her back. But when he slammed the girl, some students became concerned and asked if Valdez was “OK.” Janissa Valdez was still suspended for two days, reports A.R. Shaw for Rolling Out.
The use of resource officers in schools has been a topic of concern for many parents since its inception. Another slamming video in October 2015 showed Deputy Ben Fields slamming a young female person to the floor at Spring Valley High in South Carolina. In Baltimore last month, an officer slapped a male student at Reach! Partnership School.
Violent episodes can occur in schools, but having resource officers around can make students feel intimidated or be distracted in a setting where education is the principal concern.
Ms. Valdez was told by Kehm that “he did what he had to do at the moment.” The police officer’s attorney stated that the officer’s actions were reasonable.