Social media is ablaze after video emerged on Friday, Nov. 19, of police pepper-spraying and tasing a Black teenage student during a wide-scale disruption at a high school in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth.
The boy, who has not been identified, was part of a demonstration at the school in support of a female schoolmate who has alleged she was groped and harassed on a school bus in October.
Hundreds gathered in the hallways of the school in Little Elm, Texas on the last Friday before Thanksgiving after information spread on social media that a sophomore named Jaelyn was placed on in-school suspension after she was found talking to the person she accused of sexual misconduct.
The students walked out of their classes around 10:20 a.m. that day. One student witness said officers attempted to gather the students by linking their arms together and pushing the students back. Still, the students broke through their human chain. Swiftly, chaos ensued.
Students filmed the law enforcement officers as they shot pepper spray at a group of students and tased another as he came toward the officers. Videos were uploaded, and within minutes parents wanted to know what was going on.
Multiple videos show the police and students confronting each other. In one video, a Black boy is seen being pepper-sprayed and tasered to the ground. Afterward, the officer can be seen grabbing and dragging him by his shirt.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted about the incident. “Texas Police pepper-sprayed and TASED Little Elm high school students who were protesting their school’s handling of sexual assault! This is ridiculous! These students were standing up for what is RIGHT. This excessive police response is disgusting.”
One white student tried to step in to protect another student and says he was tased also.
The junior, Kaden Throckmorton, told the local NBC affiliate, “He pushes me away, he pulls out his Taser and pushes me with the Taser and he’s like, ‘Hey, you need to back off.’ I’m like, ‘He’s not breathing, we need to do something about this.’ And he ends up putting the Taser to my stomach, he Tases me, one of the other officers pushes me on the shoulder, he actually rips my shirt.”
He continued his account, saying, “I was just running off all of the adrenaline in my body. I knew that when he tased me my stomach tensed up.”
“I knew that what I was doing was for the better good,” he concluded. “I was just scared. I was scared.”
Chaplain Crystal Bates from the DFW Metro chapter of the NAACP commented on the videos she saw and called them “very disturbing.” She also said, “I’m concerned to know what are the policies for this district.”
Officials report four students were arrested that day. Superintendent Daniel Gallagher would later say that a large group of students in pursuit of others tried to break into an office during the protest.
The town of Little Elm has launched a website, LittleElmFacts, to give their side of what happened on Friday.
The city’s explanation about the Black teen who was tased and stretched out on the floor in the viral videos appears under a section titled “What happened on the first floor?” It reads as follows:
“This is the scene captured on the videos currently circulating on social media and in the news. Officers were transporting the people arrested through the building. That’s when a third person – a male student wearing a light-colored warm-up jacket and pants — attempted to interfere with the arrest. This crime is a Class A Misdemeanor. Video shows that student aggressively advancing on the officers escorting one of the students from the second-floor incident. Based on this aggressive action, another officer used pepper spray to deter the assault. When the student continued to charge at the officer, the officer was forced to deploy a Taser device to stop further advances.”
On the site, Little Elm Police Chief Rodney Harrison shares with the public that an outside “use of force expert” will be brought in to help the department decide if “the actions of these officers” were excessive.
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