Cop Chokeslams Child On Video, Texans Shrug
Oct. 13, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — Police regularly use tactics to ensure “compliance” in children that are reasonable in their eyes and completely excessive to a rational, sane person. One such measure previously discussed by Andrew Fleischman is the judicious use of pepper spray on children.
If pepper spray is not available to “de-escalate” juvenile outbursts, there’s always the good old-fashioned taser. With these highly dangerous “less lethal” methods being used on juveniles, it’s nice to see Round Rock, Texas police resort to the more humane approach of strangling kids with their bare hands.
A Round Rock High School parent says he plans on pressing charges against a Round Rock police officer for allegedly using excessive force on his son.
In a video that started circulating on Thursday evening, two School Resource Officers can be seen talking to 14-year-old Gyasi Hughes. Less than a minute into the video, one of the officers can be seen grabbing the student by the neck and taking him down to the floor.
Gyasi Hughes, a 14-year-old boy, got into a fight over a pair of sports goggles. Fights happen in schools. It’s typical boy behavior. What makes this incident atypical is a law enforcement officer putting his hands around a child’s neck and slamming him to the ground for his “safety.”
[Gyasi] said an assistant principal broke up the fight, and took him aside. He said that’s when a teacher called the SRO to come over. The teen said the officer told him to walk away.
“As I was walking away the officer was pushing me in the back and I was like, ‘why are you pushing me? I’m not doing anything, I’m walking away like you told me to,” said Gyasi.
“Finally we get like in this little corner and he’s (the SRO) sitting there yelling at me saying, ‘You shouldn’t be rude to the lady (assistant principal), don’t talk to her like that,’ I was like, ‘what are you talking about, I’m not doing anything.”
“Finally I asked him (the officer) to leave me alone and that’s the point when he grabbed me and took me down and tried to detain me,” said Gyasi. “I was just very upset, I was amped up over the fight and wasn’t really thinking.”
The Round Rock Police Department’s statement, issued in the wake of this incident making the media headlines, tells a different story of Gyasi trying to continue the fight and the principal’s inability to control the situation. Fortunately, there’s video to settle the dispute.
Gyasi is blocked from leaving the area by two School Resource Officers. He is not raising his voice beyond the din normally reserved for lunch halls in schools. He appears to try and leave once before the officer facing him directly grabs him by the throat, yanks him into a standing rear naked choke hold, spins him violently to the ground, and then restrains the physically non-threatening youth.
Gyasi’s father plans to file charges against the officer for use of excessive force.
“The police officer that was actually in this particular situation, he should have been trained well enough to know that this is a 130 pound child and that the action that was taken was totally unnecessary,” said Kashka Hughes, the father of the teen involved in Thursday’s incident.
Hughes said he wants the officer to be retrained and receive disciplinary action for using excessive force on his son.
“I believe that the officer in question should defiantly [sic?] go through some re-training or be reassessed in terms of how you handle conflicts like this,” said Hughes.
Ah yes, the familiar refrain of “if they only had better training then incidents like this wouldn’t happen.” It follows every single incident of police brutality and every complaint of excessive force that hits the media. The “training” mantra is seen as the best way to assuage the fears of the public that those tasked with the process of “protecting and serving” our public aren’t the power-mad thugs exposed with increasing regularity. Instead of asking for more training, I’ve got some questions that might better serve this discussion.
Let’s start with “What in the blue hell are we doing with armed law enforcement officers patrolling a high school?” Are we that afraid for our children’s safety that we must see cops with guns and badges patrolling school hallways like a beat? Should we really be surprised when the police we keep in our schools “for the safety of our children” start acting like police during perceived conflicts? School Resource Officers are local law enforcement that work with a school, and the First Rule of Policing still applies even when tossing a black kid to the floor in an academic institution. The cop who patrols homeroom still has to make it home for dinner just like the one in a squad car.
The easiest response is an issue of liability. No teacher or administrator wants to be sued in a litigation heavy world after breaking up a fight, and with the alleged rise of campus violence it’s a good idea to have law enforcement close by “just in case.” School Resource Officers, however, are regular cops who simply work in schools. These are men and women with guns and badges who view every day they leave their homes as time in a proverbial war zone, and every person with whom they interact as a potential enemy combatant.
As uncomfortable for some as it may be, the real answer to why Gyasi Hughes was choke slammed to the floor of his high school is he was a black teenage boy and a cop decided it was time to strangle him “for his own safety.” If administrators and teachers fear for their lives so much they feel a need to have armed law enforcement on the premises and patrolling hallways, they need to remember that cases like Gyasi Hughes will happen as a natural consequence.