Student body-slammed by school police officer
SAN ANTONIO - A viral video showing a school police officer body-slamming a 12-year-old girl to the ground has sparked a San Antonio Independent School District investigation.
The district confirmed the officer was put on paid leave Wednesday morning.
The incident happened March 29 at Rhodes Middle School on the west side. The video is hard to watch. Sixth-grader Janissa Valdez is thrown to the ground by the officer. Many of her classmates reacted by laughing.
"Do you remember it?" reporter Emily Baucum asks.
"No," Janissa responds.
She says the kids in the hallway had been anticipating a fight between her and another girl.
"I was going up to her to tell her let's go somewhere else so we could talk but that's when the cop thought I was going at her," Janissa says.
It took a few days for the Valdez family to see the cell phone video. It went viral after being posted on a local blog.
"You could just hear where she hits the ground. And it's nothing but concrete, cement," her mother Gloria Valdez says. "She wasn't moving. She was just knocked out. I wanted answers and nobody could give me answers. I contacted the vice-principal. I talked to the officer. He did what he had to do at the moment - those were his words."
The video is now the driving force behind two SAISD investigations: one by police, the other by administration.
"It's very concerning. It's alarming to see this," district spokesperson Leslie Price says. "And while we want to get all the details, I want people to know that excessive force will not be tolerated in this district."
The district identifies the officer as Joshua Kehm who has been on the force for a little more than a year. We called to get his side of the story, but Officer Kehm says he won't be making a statement at this time.
Janissa says there's just one word for his actions: "Wrong," she says. "Because I wasn't going to do anything."
Officer Kehm's job is now on the line.
"That's up to the district," Gloria says. "I just don't want that done to another student or to my daughter again."
Janissa has been checked out from doctors. She says she had a big bump on her head, but will be okay.
The following is an updated statement from the District:
The District launched an investigation yesterday into the incident shown on the video that occurred at Rhodes Middle School. It's important that the investigation be done appropriately and in a timely manner. Texas state law requires an investigation to be conducted following a complaint filed against an officer, before that officer can be subject to any disciplinary action. The officer was placed on leave Wednesday morning, pending the outcome of the investigation. We are working to interview as many witnesses as possible, to ensure we take the appropriate action.
We have no other details about the incident to provide at this time.
By EMILY BAUCUM