A Texas public school district launched an investigation into a possible case of excessive force following the release of a cellphone video that captured one of its police officers struggling to restrain a sixth grade female student. It then appeared he slammed her to the ground.
Details surrounding the 30 second video remain unknown but it shows a San Antonio Independent School District Police Department officer and a Rhodes Middle School female student identified as 12-year-old Janissa Valdez, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The school district launched the probe following the video’s release Tuesday, April 5. The incident happened last week.
On YouTube the viral video had almost 86,000 views by late evening Wednesday, April 6.
San Antonio ISD spokeswoman Leslie Price identified the officer in the video as Joshua Kehm. The footage of Kehm throwing Valdez to the ground has audible reactions of the other students, including one girl who repeatedly asks Valdez if she is okay. While face down on the ground, Valdez appears to be handcuffed by the officer who helps her to her feet and then leads her away.
Price maintained Kehm intervened after two female students became verbally aggressive with one another at about 4 p.m. on March 29. San Antonio’s KENS 5 (CBS) reported the girl’s mother, Gloria Valdez, was not pleased with how Kehm handled her daughter. She told the local CBS affiliate that the force was so powerful it knocked out her daughter. She said: “She was, I guess, unconscious. She doesn’t remember being arrested with handcuffs.” Valdez claimed Janissa was bruised “because of how she was hit on the cement.”
The elder Valdez acknowledged to the Express-News that her daughter had previous encounters with the other student involved in this altercation, saying: “She has. I won’t lie.” The parent told the San Antonio newspaper her 12-year-old was bullied at the beginning of the school year. “I talked to a counselor, the vice principal and principal, and they said they’d look into it.” Valdez explained that the other student began attacking her daughter, which erupted into a fight and got her daughter a three-day suspension. Valdez said she did not know why the other girl wanted to argue with her daughter but shared that school administrators cautioned Janissa against further campus spats, telling her “next time you’ll go to jail and mom gets a fine.” Valdez added school administrators told her daughter to make sure they know “before anything else happens.”
She indicated her daughter received a two-day suspension after last week’s incident caught on cellphone. Valdez said she would wait for the outcome of the investigation before determining whether or not to take further action in the matter.
In response to the video, the school district’s spokeswoman said administrators learned about the video Tuesday night. They put Kehm on paid administrative leave while the district began its investigation.
“This video is very concerning, and we are working to get all of the details,” Price told the Express-News. “We certainly want to understand what all occurred, and we are not going to tolerate excessive force in our district.”
Meanwhile, Valdez wants something done about the San Antonio ISD PD officer’s alleged conduct. She said: “Because he could go back and do it again to my daughter or another student.” She hopes good will come out of this.
Price told KENS 5: “We are gathering all the info we can to see what led up to it.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.