San Antonio fires school police officer seen slamming girl in video

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2016 2:51 PM

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The San Antonio school district on Monday fired a school police officer seen on a viral video body slamming a 12-year-old girl, saying his use of force was unwarranted.

Shortly after the video was released last week on social media, the district said it was investigating officer Joshua Kehm, who has been with the district since February 2015.

"We understand that situations can sometimes escalate to the point of requiring a physical response," Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. "However, in this situation, we believe that the extent of the response was absolutely unwarranted."

In the half-minute video, shot by an unidentified student at Rhodes Middle School on March 29, Kehm is seen grappling with the student, Janissa Valdez, in a school hallway, picking her up and throwing her to the ground.

The girl lies motionless while the officer handcuffs her. She then gets up and is led away by the officer. The video does not show what led up to the incident or what followed.

Martinez said Kehm produced an "inconsistent" police report. School district officials said the Texas Rangers, a statewide police agency, is also looking into the matter.

"We want to be clear. We will not tolerate this behavior," Martinez said.

Kehm has declined to comment on the incident.

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood says his office is also conducting an investigation to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

The video has fed into a national debate over the role of police in schools and the proper procedure for dealing with unruly pupils by school officials.

Almost 31,000 police officers are at U.S. public schools, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and incidents of violence by officers in schools, especially against minorities, have raised concerns. 

(Reporting by Jim Forsyth; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)