A criminal investigation is being launched by law enforcement officials after video footage was discovered online featuring a Baltimore school police officer slapping and kicking a teenager while a second policeman watched.
School officials have yet to release much information pertaining to the incident, which occurred last Tuesday directly outside a city high school. Since that time, School Police Chief Marshall Goodwin and the two officers in the video have been placed on administrative leave as activists push for the Department of Justice to investigate the school police, writes Julia Craven for The Huffington Post.
It is currently unclear as to whether the teenager involved was in fact a student of the school. Acting School Police Chief Akil Hamm said the officers had been responding to a REACH Partnership School in Clifton Park where two “intruders” were said to have been inside. The presence of the unknown individuals was considered to be a threat.
Hamm said the officers had asked the two teenage boys to leave the school and were successful in their attempts to remove the individuals from the building. He added that school officials had said the pair were not students of the school, determined by a consultation with school administrators, who were unable to identify them.
Video footage of the incident was filmed by the boy’s friend, who then posted it to Facebook.
The attorney for the 16-year-old boy and his parents, Lauren Geisser, said the student does in fact attend the school, and was able to obtain a copy of the school’s list of students with his name on it. The boy had been sent to the hospital for injuries to his ribs and face. She would not identify the boy because he is a minor.
Geisser said she had gone to the school with the boy and his parents in an effort to speak with Principal James Gresham, but was told he was in a meeting. She said the parents wanted to know their child would be safe should he walk back into the school.
“We waited for a significant period of time,” Geisser said. “You would think the principal would want an open line of communication on this issue.”
Schools spokeswoman Edie House Foster said an investigation into the incident was currently ongoing by school officials, reports Liz Bowie for The Baltimore Sun.
Hamm added that the school system is taking the situation “extremely seriously.” He would not identify the officers, citing rules pertaining to personnel matters as well as the ongoing investigation.
In a statement, Baltimore Schools CEO Gregory Thornton said, “I am completely appalled and disappointed by what is depicted in the video.”
The criminal investigation will be led by the Baltimore Police Department’s Special Investigation Response Team, who will be working on the case with the State’s Attorney’s Office. Police will also offer a liaison for the internal investigation, to be handled by the Baltimore City School Police.
Reaction to the video has students and public officials making a push for increased transparency and scrutiny of school police.
City Councilman Brandon Scott, vice chair of the public safety committee, said that “no one’s child should be treated like that.”
“It just goes to break down all the good will and all the good work that police officers, and schools police officers especially, do every day,” Scott said. “That just adds to my level of disgust.”