Violent protests erupted outside L.W. Higgins High Schoool in the New Orleans suburb of Marrero, La., on Friday in response to shocking video of an 18-year-old student being brutally beaten by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy.
Now, the teen’s family is demanding answers from school leaders.
According to local station WWL-TV, students gathered at the school to voice their frustration over the administration’s handling of the incident involving senior Jami Coston, who called his mother via FaceTime after the alleged Jan. 24 assault.
“I’ve never seen a face dripping like that,” Dasuqua Coston, told the station, describing how her son’s face was swollen and covered in blood.” It looked like it was coming mostly from his eye. His lip look busted.”
“[His] eye is bust, blood is leaked all over his school shirt … [it’s] leaking everywhere,” she added.
The incident unfolded Thursday when officials said Coston caused a disruption in class after a teacher accused him of having cigarettes “because he smelled like it.” That’s when a dean at the school summoned a school resource officer (SRO) to search the Black teen, who sheriff’s office officials described as “extremely angry and profane.”
As the deputy and an administrator approached Coston outside the main administration building, the student allegedly resisted being handcuffed and refused to comply with the deputy’s commands. That’s when JPSO said the deputy “escorted him to the ground …”
“Jamiah said he took off his jacket and said ‘oh b—h, you wanna fight?” Dasuqua recalled. “Once (the deputy) got to Jamiah, that’s when the slamming, the putting the arms behind the back … and he said he was screaming.”
A witness captured part on the incident on video, which was widely circulated among students on social media. In the clip, a man is seen falling on top of the teen in a dark breezeway.
JPSO officials said the deputy suffered scrapes to his right knee and right hand during the scuffle while Coston suffered a minor cut near his left eye. After the deputy managed to secure the teenager, he was reportedly taken to the deputy’s office to do the necessary paperwork for his arrest.
Once inside the office, the deputy claimed Coston tried to pull away from him and he was again forced to tackle the teen to the ground in an effort to subdue him.
Local youth advocacy group, ReThink, painted an entirely different story of the incident, however.
“While in handcuffs, Jami cussed at the officer at which time he was taken against his will into a room with no camera no witnesses,” the group wrote in a Facebook post. “Jami was so badly brutalized that behind closed doors, students could hear his loud cry of pain. Rather than intervene, teachers refused allow students to support their classmate. They … heard him getting beat up by police over an unproven accusation of smelling like cigarettes.”
The organization claims Coston wasn’t allowed to file his own incident report and that his family wasn’t notified of what happened until he called his mother on FaceTime.
The teen was arrested and booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on charges of resisting an officer, battery on a police officer and interfering with an educational facility, FOX 8 reported.
The incident spurred a student-led protest at the school on Friday, during which two fights broke out and one student was arrested, authorities said. The teen’s family, who said they plan to hire an attorney, said Coston is set to graduate in May. Yet now, “the school is trying to [expel] him for something they told us they knew nothing about,” a Facebook post by Coston’s sister, Mari Coston, alleges.
“LW HIGGINS HIGH SCHOOL AND OFFICER GOFFIE TREATED BY BROTHER LIKE A CRIMINAL OR SOME TYPE OF ANIMAL AND WE WILL NOT STAND FOR IT!!!” she wrote.
As of Friday, Coston remained in custody on $2,000 bond.
Watch more in the video below.
On January 24th, 2019 at LW Higgins High school, 18 year old senior Jami Coston was brutally assaulted by a Jefferson Parish Police Officer, Deputy Goffie. Jami was in class when his teacher accused Jami of possessing cigarettes. When Jami told his teacher that he didn't have any on him, she accused him of lying even though she had no proof; and called Ms. Johnson, who is one of the Deans, and Deputy Goffie to the classroom to search him. Dean Johnson pulled Jami out of class and Deputy Goffie twisted his arm so hard it felt like it was going to break. Dean Johnson was still present when the incident took place and instructed the officer to take Jami to the office. Jami was desperate to prove his innocence and took off his jacket to show Deputy Goffie that he in fact did not have any cigarettes on him. The officer claimed to feel threatened and handcuffed Jami WITHOUT A FIGHT. While in handcuffs, Jami cussed at the officer at which time he was taken against his will into a room with no camera no witnesses. Jami was so badly brutalized that behind closed doors, students could hear his loud cry of pain. Rather than intervene, teachers refused allow students to support their classmate. They were helpless as they heard him getting beat up by police over an unproven accusation of smelling like cigarettes. When Jami was allowed to leave the room he was still in handcuffs, but his face was bruised and bloody. He was not allowed to write a incident report. He wasn’t even allowed to wipe blood off his face. Jami has now been arrested for battery of an officer, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest- all these charges though all these accusations are untrue. His family was unaware of anything that happened to him until Jami called his sister on Facetime. When the family asked what happened Deputy Goffie hung up on them. Jami's family was never notified by the school that Jami was in trouble and after the incident when the family tried to communicate with the school, the claimed they didn't know anything. Dean Johnson lied and told the family that she was not aware of what happened in the class, hallway nor the office even though she was the one who had him pulled out of class. Our schools aren’t safe. Our teachers don’t keep us safe. This is State Violence. We want answers and we want justice. Why was Jami treated as a suspect?Why was he searched?Why were officers allowed to place him in handcuffs?Why were officers allowed to take him into a room unsupervised?Why is he being charged? How could he assault an officer with his hands cuffed behind his back? Why wasn’t the family notified as soon as the incident took place? Why did the teachers choose to protect the police and not the students? What happened Thursday to Jami, and Friday when students tried to speak up on his behalf is too common. And the whole damn system is guilty as hell! If you’re ready to get justice, text or call this number (504) 517-8659. We’re going to meet on Tuesday. We have rides for anyone who needs one. Let us know. We can’t be silent about this. We want jami released and all charges dropped!We want police out of our schools!We want dean johnson fired!Join Rethink to let these schools know that the youth are not going to take this anymore!! (504) 517-8659 #assaultathigginshigh#endwaronyouth#studentsnotsuspects#freejami#justiceforjami#rethinkresistrebel#respecttheyouth
Posted by Rethink on Friday, January 25, 2019