ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Police are investigating a school resource officer’s actions after a video showed him forcefully taking down a teenage girl outside a Round Rock high school.
The incident happened after dismissal Friday at Cedar Ridge High School. Videos recorded by other students showed the officer trying to take a girl into custody, then reaching around her neck and throwing her backward onto the sidewalk. Another officer runs in shortly thereafter, as students surrounding them yell and scream in disbelief.
Chief Allen Banks confirmed Monday that police are now looking into the officer’s use of force. He has also been removed from working at the high school, while the investigation is happening.
“If the officer did anything inappropriate, we’ll take the appropriate actions from that point,” Chief Banks told KXAN. “But we are gathering all video footage that we can of the incident. We’re interviewing witnesses as well, and we’ll take the appropriate actions that we need to take if we find the officer did anything inappropriate.”
Police are also conducting a separate investigation into the student’s conduct. Another video circulating on social media shows her attacking another girl inside a school bus.
The Round Rock Independent School District confirmed that an assistant principal stepped in and stopped that fight. Police responded to that incident and ended up taking the girl into custody, though it’s unclear if she’ll face any charges related to the fight.
Jiae Kim, the Cedar Ridge High School principal, sent a letter to students and their families Sunday evening about these situations. Kim wrote, “My administrative team, along with district leaders, is working with Round Rock Police to fully review the situation, what led up to it, and how it was handled.”
The principal added: “The safety of our students and staff, as well as the emotional wellbeing of our students, is of paramount importance to us. We strive to create a campus environment where students feel safe and protected at all times and appreciate our partnership with law enforcement who help us accomplish this goal.”
The videos caught the attention of Deborah Fowler, who serves as executive director of Texas Appleseed.
“We have concerns about the student’s actions on the school bus,” Fowler said “But it’s hard to see from the video what the justification would be using that kind of force once the student was off the bus and was no longer a threat to students or anyone else on the school campus.”
Fowler’s nonprofit is currently offering guidance to Round Rock ISD students and their families, who are sharing concerns about the district’s effort to create its own police force.
“In our research we’ve shown that black students in particular are over-represented in interactions with police, including uses of force,” Fowler said. “I hope that as Round Rock is considering and investigating what happened that they’ll take a closer look at the way the use of force is being used historically on their campuses by school police and determine whether or not there are any broader trends to be concerned about as well.”
A group called Engage Round Rock, which formed to “elevate the voices of underserved populations,” sent KXAN the following statement:
The videos of the incident at Cedar Ridge High School are obviously alarming and we look forward to a thorough review. Because city and county SROs are in our schools and not ISD police, it’s more likely that the examination of the incident will be conducted thoroughly and in a professional and objective manner. We look forward to seeing the final report.
We object to the use of carotid chokeholds and throwdowns of children generally. These tactics when employed by adults against children are inappropriate, unnecessary, and are viewed as brutality by most civilized societies. We expect adults whether uniformed or not to use their superior mental and physical skills to gain control of children without intentionally and unnecessarily causing harm to the child subject and emotional trauma to child witnesses.
We hope that this incident spurs further discussion about the necessity of more counselors and the protocols for police in our schools.