An Arkansas police officer has been placed on leave after he was filmed putting a teenage high school student in a chokehold in an incident at school.
The incident occurred on Monday morning at Camden Fairview High School in Camden, Arkansas, as reported by NBC News. In the video of the Feb. 10 incident, Officer Jake Perry put ninth grader Dekyrion Ellis in a headlock and lifted him by his neck. At one point, Ellis’ feet were off the floor. Perry worked as a school resource officer at the school.
“I feared for my life,” Ellis told KTVE. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I blacked out. I really didn’t see anything until he took me back to the office.”
Ellis got into an argument with another student that resulted in a shoving match. The teen said other students intervened and broke it up.
“He [the student] hit me. I pushed him. Then he pushed me and I pushed him harder to where he fell on the ground,” he said. “That’s when the kids started grabbing me and him.”
When Perry got involved he created a new situation.
“The police officer pushed the kids off of me and he grabbed me and started choking me against the glass,” Ellis continued.
Ellis’ parents took him to the hospital to be examined. He was left with scratches and complained about pain but he was not seriously injured.
The teen believes Perry should have found another way to end the conflict.
“He could’ve taken me to the office,” he said. “He didn’t have to restrain me. It wasn’t like I was trying to get away from him. I wasn’t resisting arrest.”
Ellis’ family told the station the officer went too far.
“My son couldn’t even breathe,” said Alonna Parker, his mother. “It was just really uncalled for.”
“He should have put his hands behind his back,” Mark Ellis, his grandfather said. “That would’ve been the appropriate way to handle the situation.”.
Camden Police Chief Boyd Woody said the department is investigating the incident and Perry was relieved of duty.
“As the Police Chief, I will not tolerate misconduct from officers and this matter will be dealt with accordingly and I will be transparent in doing so,” he said in a statement to THV11.
Camden Fairview Superintendent Fred Lilly promised the district would “fully cooperate with the CPD’s investigation,” in a separate statement.
“In order to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, CFSD will work with the CPD to ensure that current policies and procedures for all SROs stationed at CFSD schools are reviewed and revised if necessary,” the statement continued. “CFSD’s first priority is, and will continue to be, to provide an excellent education to all of our students in a safe environment.”