Fault Lines
27 June 2017

Small Town Cop Delivers Big City “Justice” To High School Girl

January 5, 2017 (Fault Lines) — Since Columbine back in 1999, high schools throughout the country have deployed “Student Resource Officers” or SROs – a euphemism for standard armed police stationed full-time at the school.  These law enforcement officers are intended to provide “safety” to the students during class hours and at sporting events, and will occasionally teach classes as well.

The risk to these arrangements, of course, is that despite the fancy name, SROs are still police.

A high school girl in Rolesville, North Carolina (population: 6,074) learned that lesson first-hand on Tuesday as a 9-second cell phone video went viral on Snapchat and Twitter:


In a move reminiscent more of a WWE match than a school, Rolesville Police Department officer and SRO Ruben De Los Santos can be seen grabbing the teenage black girl from behind, lifting her into the air, and then body slamming her into the concrete, before placing her under arrest.

Later Tuesday afternoon, a second, earlier video surfaced showing a minute-long fight between two other girls in the high school cafeteria.

Jasmine Darwin, the slammed student, told local media she is the sister of one of the students who was fighting, and was trying to break up the fight when Santos intervened.

While the nationwide attention from the videos is rare for Rolesville, it is just another example of a recurring pattern across the country of SROs use of questionable force toward the very students they are supposed to protect.

Just last month, a police SRO at Hug High School in Reno shot a 14-year-old boy in the neck while a crowd of students surrounded them.  In October 2015, a girl was ripped from her desk and thrown across the room by a police SRO at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.

And Rolesville itself has faced recent criticism in the past for its SROs, as an officer was shown on video macing a student back in October.

This most-recent incident at Rolesville High School has prompted the Wake County Public School System to re-assess its Memorandum of Understanding with Rolesville PD on the role its officers will play in school safety:

School administrators are reviewing the district’s agreement with local law enforcement agencies on school resource officers. The agreement, which is set to expire in June, says use of force by officers must be reasonable and not excessive, arbitrary or malicious.

“We’re looking at the memorandum of understanding in terms of the context of the incident and seeing if any actions need to be taken,” Lisa Luten, a Wake County schools spokeswoman, said Wednesday.

It remains to be seen if any tangible changes will be made when the MOU is renewed this June.

Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles indicated there is bodycam footage of the incident, but neither he nor Police Chief Bobby Langston would offer any detail on what it showed. As part of a new law passed with wide bipartisan majorities in North Carolina last June, all police bodycam, dashcam, and other video have been removed from the state’s Public Records Act.

Jasmine Dawson’s mother told local media her daughter now has a concussion, while Officer Santos is on paid leave during the investigation.

6 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

*

*

By submitting a comment here you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.

  • DaveL
    5 January 2017 at 8:57 am - Reply

    The “reasonable force” standard misses the point. By the time a school disciplinary matter has been escalated into a criminal matter, any reasonable resolution by pedagogical standards has already gone out the window.

    • shg
      5 January 2017 at 9:10 am - Reply

      Cites for “reasonable resolution” and “pedagogical standards,” please?

      • DaveL
        5 January 2017 at 1:08 pm - Reply

        If you’re looking for a national-level standard on student discipline, the closest you’ll come is probably the DOE’s Dear Colleague letters and accompanying documents, which I know you cherish to no end. One of their latest releases, the Dec 2016 report The Continuous Need to Rethink Discipline, brings attention to such things as the elimination of corporal punishment, the elimination of physical restraint as a disciplinary measure, and efforts to reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. The NEA also publishes guidance on school discipline for teachers, an example of which can be found here. Note such guidance as:

        • Do not raise your voice.
        • Try to remain calm and rational.
        • Do not touch an agitated or
        angry student.

        This is all rather different from the standard for police use of force, which permit among other things, the use of pain-compliance techniques, all of which are conspicuously absent in material teachers write for each other about student discipline, nor do they contemplate the bringing of criminal charges in response to disobedience or classroom disruption.

        • shg
          5 January 2017 at 1:23 pm - Reply

          Actually, I was making a silly joke, but now I feel badly about it seeing that you did all this work. You get a tummy rub for effort.

  • CLS
    5 January 2017 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Welcome aboard, Greg.

    I’m rather curious about one of your statements. Did the SRO boom really start after Columbine? It would make sense, given the horrific nature of that incident, but I was curious if you had come across data that showed Columbine as the cultural tipping point for this tragic phenomenon.

    Regardless, Officer Santos had no business suplexing/slamming/whatever a teenage girl arguably a foot smaller than him and approximately a third of his weight. The maneuver he executed carries the potential for long-term traumatic brain injury. Using that on a juvenile is not just a lapse of judgment, it’s a horrific act of child abuse by a person tasked with “protecting” children.

    The fact I’m thinking “At least she wasn’t tased or shot” is a testament to how bad the SRO situation is in our country.

  • The War Zone In Asheville NC (aka “Hippie Mogadishu”)
    9 February 2017 at 11:05 am - Reply

    […] starts with video posted to social media. (Stop me if you’ve heard this before, like here or here or here or […]