A viral video of Black high school students in Las Vegas being arrested by police on Feb. 10 has ignited sharp criticism for how the students were handled by the officers.
The video begins with two Clark County School District police officers walking a detained Black male teen with his hands behind his back toward their police vehicle.
Meanwhile, a group of students watched from the sidewalk while recording on their cellphones. Once the first teen is taken to the front of the police vehicle, the camera follows another officer who beelines toward another Black male teen wearing a gray hoodie and red sweatpants recording what is happening.
The officer grabs the teenager, puts his arm around his neck and slams him onto the roadway. The teen lands in between the curb and the parked police vehicle. While on the ground, other nearby teens look on as the officer yells at them, “Back the f—k up,” as he flashes handcuffs at them.
The second detained teenager is pinned down with the officer placing his knee on the back of the student’s neck for a few seconds until he is in handcuffs.
Other students continue to look on, asking the officer why he’s holding the teenager down the way he was. The officer continues to yell at the students to back up.
The video ends at this point, but it quickly made the rounds on social media sparking outrage.
“What happened was one kid walked past an officer holding their cellphone video recording, and then was aggressively approached and thrown to the ground. Pretty crazy that being video recorded justifies physical assault of a minor,” Tiffany Harrell commented on Facebook.
“There’s no context for a police officer to slam a minor on the floor like that. The officer is clearly not proficient in effective communication because there was no need to do that. Gosh, he’s an adult. But, they’re different, so,” Yuriria Hurtado commented.
Durango High School student Deon Wallace told KVVU one of the officers told him he was jaywalking. He was not one of the teenagers apprehended in the video.
“It reminded me of the George Floyd situation, who the way he had his knee on him,” Wallace said.
Jacory Taylor said he was handcuffed by one of the officers, although it’s unclear if he is one of the teens shown in the video.
“I never thought we as kids would have to go through that,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s mother, Phahren Sims, felt the kids are not safe with the police.
“Our kids aren’t even safe with their own school police,” Sims said.
“I feel they seen our kids grouped up, Black kids, minding their business and they assumed these kids were up to trouble. And then even when you realized that they weren’t up to trouble, you still attack them for recording. So I definitely think this has something to do with a Black situation, I definitely do,” Sims added.
The Clark County School District responded to the viral video. School superintendent Jesus Jara said in a statement, “Upon viewing the video involving school police and juveniles near a CCSD campus, we are concerned with how one of our students was treated. As with any situation, an investigation will occur to understand all the facts and hold people accountable for their actions.”
Local activist Kamilah Bywaters told KLAS, “We definitely want this police officer to be terminated. Not reassigned. We want him terminated.”
“That is a trauma that students are bringing with them to schools, so when you see police officers, and maybe with the heavy presence on campuses, that right there in and of itself, brings negative experience to our students,” Bywaters added.
“I don’t think you need to be a lawyer to see that civil rights have been violated. We did ask to see video footage because the CCSD officers do wear body cams. That footage will be made available to the public once the investigation is over,” president of the Las Vegas branch of the NAACP Quentin Savwoir said.
KVVU reported the officer seen slamming the student has been reassigned and is currently not in the field. The incident is currently under investigation.