Yet another disturbing video has emerged of a school resource officer using excessive force against a female student half his size.
A nine-second video clip uploaded to Twitter on Tuesday, Dec. 3. showed school police Officer Ruben De Los Santos in the midst of a riotous scene at Rolesville High School in North Carolina as he lifted a young female student high into the air and forcefully slammed her to the ground. The young woman hit the floor with a loud thud, prompting shrieks from students who witnessed it.
The shocking footage, which went viral on social media, has since garnered national outrage and prompted calls for De Los Santos’ immediate termination.
— Ahunna (@ahunnaaa_) January 3, 2017
— ♡Melanie♡ (@arthoemel) January 3, 2017
A police officer bodyslamming a student is abuse and brutality. Period. #RolesvilleHigh
— Gregory Michie (@GregoryMichie) January 4, 2017
Police brutality is never justified, & save the ignorance with "If she would have complied".. idc, a bodyslam is far from ok #rolesvillehigh
— ☆Porscha Keyana☆ (@miss_Keyana) January 3, 2017
The school resource officer has been placed on paid administrative leave as officials work to get to the bottom of what led to Des Los Santos’ use of force, according to the local newspaper, The News & Observer. Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston said on Tuesday evening that the department, along with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, is investigating the incident.
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“We will work diligently to review any and all pertinent information so that we provide an accurate account of the events,” Langston said in a statement. “We ask the community and all members involved to be patient while we investigate this matter.”
Tuesday’s footage drew numerous comparisons to the video of a Columbia, South Carolina, officer that went viral last year. That officer aggressively tried to yank a female Spring Valley High student from her desk. When the desk came with her, he put her in a chokehold, flipped her over while she was still seated, then dragged her across the floor of the classroom. The former officer, Ben Fields, managed to avoid criminal charges but was ultimately fired for his actions.
The incident at Rolesville High also sparked fresh criticisms on the role of in-school resource officers and their excessive use of force against students, a use of force that is disproportionately wielded against Black and Latino students.
“This use of force is very disturbing and is never justified, especially in schools where kids are supposed to go to learn and be safe and to concentrate on their school work,” said Irena Como, a staff attorney for the North Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. She added that the organization will consider filing a lawsuit.
Disturbing use of force at #rolesvillehigh that should never be used against kids in schools. Contact us if you have info about incident.
— ACLU-North Carolina (@ACLU_NC) January 3, 2017
Rolesville school officials are still unsure of what occurred before the officer-involved incident. A separate one-minute-long video showed what appeared to be an altercation between two students, during which several adults intervened. This was moments before De Los Santos was clearly seen slamming the young woman to the ground.
The teen is seen lying limply on the floor for a brief second before the officer lifts her up and walks her out of the view of the camera.
“I, like many of you, am deeply concerned about what I saw in the video,” Rolesville High School principal Dhedra Lassiter wrote in a letter to the community. “The safety of our students is always our first priority. … It is vital that our children have a positive relationship with these law enforcement officials. Those relationships are built on mutual respect.”
A witness who recorded the incident told CBS North Carolina that the female student was just “trying to defend her sister and break things up.”
Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles confirmed that the incident had also been captured on De Los Santos’ body camera and is under review.