A La Mesa, California, police officer was caught on video slamming an arrested female student to the ground Friday afternoon, causing widespread outrage, and some have called for the officer to lose his job.
A protest was planned at the Helix Charter High School, where the incident took place. The violent takedown was captured on a 30-second cell phone video that was shared on social media, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“I will be completely shutting down my sisters school Helix High on Monday. !” wrote user Aeiramique Blake, a student at the school who posted the video to her Facebook account. “I do not care what this young lady did. This officer had no right to slam her to the ground and she was handcuffed. I’m pissed! The whole school will get shutdown Monday!”
As of Monday morning, the video had more than 43,000 views. It shows an officer throwing the girl onto the concrete sidewalk as two others watch. The officer then uses the weight of his body to pin the student to the ground.
La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez said in a statement that the officer was trying to prevent the student from fleeing.
The incident started when the 17-year-old student, who had been suspended, reportedly refused to leave the campus.
The student was asked to voluntarily leave by a school resource officer. When she refused, she was ordered to leave the campus. She still would not cooperate, at which point the officer handcuffed her and began walking her to the school’s office, according to Vasquez.
“As they were walking, the student became non-compliant on two separate occasions and made an attempt to free herself by pulling away from the officer,” the chief said in the statement. “To prevent the student from escaping, the officer forced the student to the ground.”
Vasquez said that once the student quit resisting or trying to escape, the officer helped her up and walked her to his patrol car.
Paramedics at the police station determined that the student did not require medical attention after sustaining minor abrasions.
However, Blake, speaking on behalf of the girl and her family, said the police are telling a different version of the incident than what really occurred.
Blake said the student was assigned to in-school suspension for tardiness when the girl told an instructor she wasn’t feeling well. She explained she was anemic, but the teacher accused her of being on drugs, Blake told the Union-Tribune.
The teacher reportedly searched the student’s backpack after being granted permission; no drugs were found, but she had pepper spray in the bag. The student said she carried the pepper spray for protection because she took the trolley to school from southeast San Diego every day.
The school instructor, however, reportedly said the student would have to leave the campus because she was carrying a weapon, which the girl refused. She was handcuffed by police whom the instructor called, but still refused to leave, the Union-Tribune reports.
Students, parents and community members will likely ask that the arresting officer not be dispatched to any schools going forward.
“No matter what was done or not done, that was not the appropriate way to handle a young lady,” Blake said. “The community is completely outraged.”