A North Carolina police officer was put on leave on Tuesday after video showed him throwing a high school girl to the ground.
The officer’s actions were criticized as excessive force by some students and parents at Rolesville High School. On Tuesday, town officials said he was on paid administrative leave while his actions were under investigation.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation will review the police department’s findings, Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston said at a town meeting Tuesday night.
“We ask the community and all members involved to be patient while we investigate this matter,” Langston said.
According to officials, Officer Ruben De Los Santos, the school resource officer for Rolesville High School, responded to a fight between two female students at 7:10 a.m. on Tuesday.
In a 9-second clip posted online by another student, De Los Santos picks up a girl and throws her to the ground. He then pulls her up and leads her away.
The girl, Jasmine Darwin, told WRAL that she had no idea what was going on as the officer stepped up behind her. Jasmine said her older sister had been involved in the fight and that she had tried to break it up.
The girls’ mother, Desiree Harrison, told the station she was shocked to see the video, and wanted answers from the police department and the school.
“That’s not how you handle a child,” Harrison said. “She’s only 100 pounds. He could’ve killed her.”
The school’s principal sent a message to parents acknowledging the questions the video raised.
“I, like many of you, am deeply concerned about what I saw in the video,” principal Dhedra Lassiter said.
She added the district would be reviewing the agreement it has with local law enforcement on the training and standards that school resource officers should follow.
“Our school district works with many dedicated officers who protect our students,” she said. “It is vital that our children have a positive relationship with these law enforcement officials. Those relationships are built on mutual respect.”
The North Carolina chapter of the ACLU described the video as disturbing.
“Students should never be treated this way,” the group tweeted.
In 2015, a school police officer in South Carolina was fired after video captured him throwing a student from her desk. He was not charged with a crime, but the incident prompted scrutiny by the federal Department of Justice on the state law that allows police to be involved in school discipline.
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