Teenager Slammed to Ground Raises Fresh Concerns About Police in Schools
Video footage of brutal treatment by officer is latest example of troubling violence against students
Reminiscent of similarly brutal treatment of a student by an officer at a school in South Carolina in 2015, video footage of a female teenager being slammed to the ground by a so-called "resource officer" in North Carolina has sparked national outrage and is raising fresh concerns about the role of police in schools.
The officer who lifted up the student, 15-year-old Jasmine Darwin, before slamming her back to the ground at Rolesville High School in North Carolina on Tuesday has been identified by authorities as Ruben De Los Santos, a five-year veteran of the Rolesville Police Department.
De Los Santos has now been put on administrative leave pending an investigation.
According to Darwin's mother, who spoke with local media, her daughter suffered a concussion from the attack but is otherwise safely at home and won't be returning to the school.
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The ACLU of North Carolina expressed immediate concern about what the video shows. "Disturbing use of force at #rolesvillehigh that should never be used against kids in schools," the civil liberties group said in a tweet.
Desiree Harrison, the student's mother, called the use of force by the officer "excessive" and criticized the school for not informing her sooner of what had transpired. Though the interaction was reportedly triggered when De Los Santos intervened to break up a fight between students—including Darwin's sister—school administrators didn't tell Harrison about what happened until later in the day.
"When I'm looking at this video, I'm like 'oh my god, this cannot be happening to my child' because I was just up at the school and they didn't even tell me what happened to her," Harrison told local NBC affiliate WRAL. "They were so busy trying to get rid of the one who was in a fight but didn't even say something about the one that was not involved in anything."
Darwin herself told reporters that she is "embarrassed" by the video. She says she was trying to break up a fight involving her sister and another student when the officer grabbed her. "I didn't even realize it happened," she said. "Like, I was in shock."
As Common Dreams reported in 2015, footage of a police officer assigned to a South Carolina high school ripping a student out of her seat and slamming her to the ground spurred widespread outrage after a number of cell phone videos of the incident went viral.