“Unfortunately, Parris has some permanent brain damage as a direct result of this incident,” said Al Hofeld Jr., the attorney representing the Rockford, Illinois, teen and his family in their federal lawsuit against the Rockford Public School Board and a Rockford police officer accused of assaulting him.
It has been a year since Parris Moore, 15, stepped foot into his former high school after he was aggressively slammed to the floor, an act that caused permanent brain damage by a Rockford, Illinois, school resource officer for Moore’s wandering the halls of the school. The incident was captured by school surveillance video and is now the subject of a lawsuit.
“We’ve sued both the school district and the police,” said Hofeld.
Hofeld says as if the injuries sustained from the officer were not bad enough, the family attorney claims the school and the police tried to cover it up, claiming the 15-year-old slipped and fell.
“There was absolutely a cover-up, and not only that, but subsequently neither the school district nor the police department disclosed anything about this incident publicly,” Hofeld said.
On Sept. 21, 2021, the day of the incident, one of Moore’s teachers gave him a seating assignment the biracial 15-year-old disagreed with, resulting in Moore walking out of the classroom. As Moore wandered the halls, one of the school’s assistant principals, Scott Dimke, also named in the lawsuit, confronted Moore for skipping class.
“The whole time, you can see Parris, he’s not actively resisting, he’s not fighting,” Hofeld said of the interaction between the teenager and the assistant principal.
A few minutes into the nonviolent interaction, school resource officer Bradley Lauer was called to help, and things turned violent for Moore once the officer arrived.
“He lifts Parris up off of the floor and almost up over the officer’s head and slams him down headfirst onto the hard floor in the main hallway of the school,” Hofeld described of the physical altercation between officer Lauer and Moore.
The altercation, captured on school surveillance, shows the impact the body slam caused Moore, resulting in head injuries. “The officer slamming him produced a four-to-six-inch crack in his skull,” Hofeld said.
Surveillance cameras also showed what happened next: The teenager was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, he was placed in a wheelchair now at the front of the school and paramedics tended to Moore as his grandmother was arriving.
Upon his grandmother’s arrival, Moore gets up from the wheelchair as Officer Lauer uncuffs him. Soon after Moore’s grandmother arrived to pick him up from school, she took him to a local hospital to be evaluated. An examination by a physician made Moore’s injuries clearer.
“He’s hospitalized, they do the X-rays, they do the CT scans, and they discover what a serious fracture he has in his head and the grandmother figures out the school must have lied to me,” Hofeld said of Moore’s grandmother’s realization the story her grandson slipped and fell could not be true.
“We are suing for violations of his civil rights, we’re also bringing Illinois state law for damages to his injuries,” Hofeld said of the federal lawsuit filed.
As a result of his head injuries, Moore suffers from slurred speech and memory loss. “Unfortunately, Parris has some permanent brain damage as a direct result of this incident,” Hofeld said of Moore’s lingering injuries.
Hofeld says while no set dollar amount has been established for the lawsuit, he expects it to be at least one million dollars. The family also wants criminal charges brought for Lauer by the Winnebago County atate attorney for his excessive force against the 4-foot-11, 130-pound teenager.
A statement received by Rockford Public School says, “Rockford Public Schools is named in a federal lawsuit from an incident at Auburn High School in September 2021. The Rockford Police Officer named in the lawsuit is no longer a School Resource Officer in our school district. The administration is unable to share more information because this incident involves confidential student information. Any response to the lawsuit would be filed in the federal court system.”
The City of Rockford, also named in the lawsuit, has not responded to Atlanta Black Star’s request for comment.