A police officer was filmed slamming a teen girl down on concrete at the Helix Charter High School in La Mesa, California, on Jan. 19. The cop then used his weight to pin her to the ground.
The incident caused outrage among some students, parents and community members who planned a protest at the school on Jan. 22, notes the Los Angeles Times.
La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez claimed that the teen girl had been suspended, but refused to leave the campus and the police were called to the school.
Vasquez said a school resource officer ordered the girl to leave the campus, but when she refused, the cop handcuffed her and began walking her to the school’s office:
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. To prevent the student from escaping, the officer forced the student to the ground.
Vasquez claimed the officer helped the teen up and walked her to his police car after she agreed to quit resisting and trying to escape.
Vasquez said the girl suffered minor abrasions during the incident, and was checked by paramedics at the police station.
However, Aeiramique Blake, speaking on behalf of the girl’s family,
said the teen was assigned to in-school suspension for tardiness; The girl told a teacher that she wasn’t feeling well due to her anemia.
Blake said the teacher accused the teen of being on drugs, and searched her backpack for drugs. No drugs were found, but pepper spray was found in her bag.
Blake recalled the teen telling the teacher that she traveled with pepper spray for protection because she took the trolley from southeast San Diego to school every day, but the teacher deemed the legal pepper spray to be a weapon and told her to leave campus.
Blake said the girl felt the teacher’s behavior was discriminatory and refused to leave campus until she felt she was being heard.
According to Blake, the teacher called the police, which is when the incident happened:
No matter what was done or not done, that was not the appropriate way to handle a young lady. The community is completely outraged.