Tensions between police and civilians have risen in recent years across the country. This is especially true in minority communities. Numerous videos have appeared showing police using clear excessive force against people on the street for seemingly no reason.
This has led to widespread outrage and demands for change. There are also demands for accountability from officers in all positions. Many complaints about what is happening are due to the fact that so many officers on tape using excessive force are not prosecuted. A real issue is that there are still incidents of police brutality or questionable actions on a regular basis with no signs of slowing down.
Police do more than just patrol the streets and respond to crimes. Some police are dedicated just to dealing with students around schools. These people are known as school resource officers or school police officers. The individuals in these positions are sworn law enforcement officials. They generally patrol schools attempting to keep the peace, break up fights and prevent violence or vandalism. School police officers have come under fire lately as well. There are videos showing these officers handling students roughly for no reason. One video shows a school police officer pulling a young girl from a desk, pushing her to the floor and then dragging her out of the classroom.
A recent incident in San Antonio, Texas has put the spotlight back on school police officers. A 12-year-old girl named Vanessa Valdez was standing outside her school with a group of friends at the end of March. It is unclear what she was doing although many other students were around at the time. Some students have reported Valdez was just talking in a lively way with her friends. A school police officer named Joshua Kehm approached the girl. He came up behind her almost without warning thinking she was about to instigate a fight with another student. It is not clear what happened during the initial interaction between the officer and Valdez.
A 30-second cell phone video shows what happens next. Kehm manages to grab Valdez’s arms and pull them behind her back. Valdez is struggling although she is much smaller and thinner than Kehm. After a few seconds of struggling, Kehm lifts Valdez several feet off the ground. He angles her body forward and then slams her directly down into the hard ground. Valdez hit the ground facedown with full force. You can actually hear the moment her head bounces off the bricks. She seems to suddenly fall limp and stops moving.
The students watching the incident begin asking if she is hurt. One student screams out “She landed on her face!” on the video. Kehm lifts Valdez’s limp body up and quickly cuffs her hands behind her back. You can clearly see that Valdez is in a daze or in shock. Her face is expressionless as if she has no idea what is happening. The video ends with the officer dragging her out of range of the camera. The video upset many people including Valdez’s mother who pointed out the brutality of the attack. Kehm later claimed that Valdez attempted to kick him leading to this event. Some students corroborate his story while others deny it.
The San Antonio Independent School District responded to the event by suspending Kehm. Comments from officials just say that all the evidence needs to be seen before any other decisions are made. Kehm is on paid leave technically and has not be charged with anything yet. The incident has left made adults and students angry. There was no reason for Kehm to treat a preteen girl that way considering he already had her under control at the start of the video. Exactly what will happen to Kehm is uncertain at this time.