Footage of a school officer body-slamming a teenage girl has sparked protests in Los Angeles.
The video shows a school resource officer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department slam the unnamed teen to the ground, before pinning her down amid efforts to restrain her. She was later detained and taken out of the school by the same officer.
However, the use of force has been fiercely criticised by her family, other students, activists and community members, who believe it was unjustified given the circumstances.
At a news conference outside the school yesterday afternoon, September 15, civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom said, as per ABC 7, ‘What we have heard from the sheriff’s department is that my client was a threat. What was the threat? We haven’t been told specifically.’
According to Bloom, her client walked up to the officer to ask him if there was a problem, as he was reportedly looking at her in a particular way. However, her innocent question gave rise to an aggressive response from the officer, the lawyer says.
Sheriff’s officials alleged that the teen used foul language, which quickly escalated matters. ‘My client says she didn’t use any foul language, it was her friend. At any rate, the foul language was not a threat,’ Bloom said.
The officer asked the teen to remain where she was, but took action when she tried to walk away. ‘The sheriff’s deputy says she was walking away from him and that’s why he had to take her down. That is not a justification to take down a child. It is not a justification to take down an adult,’ the lawyer explained.
In a statement, the school district said it was ‘reviewing the incident’ in conjunction with the sheriff’s department. ‘The District and Sheriff Department have a shared commitment to ensure the safety of all our students at all our schools,’ it added.
Bloom said, ‘The only justification for physical violence, under the law, is if the officer or another person is being physically threatened with bodily injury or death. A teenager simply walking away does not meet that criteria.’
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