A Florida sheriff was defending his deputy who was seen on video violently body slamming an 11-year-old Black child at a school campus in Fort Pierce last week.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara justified the excessive force by claiming during a press conference on Wednesday that the unidentified child has behavioral issues and a history of violence, WPTV reported.
An official incident report from the incident at Lincoln Park Academy on Tuesday said the student was getting suspended for disrupting a class. He was reportedly “running around the school campus and not responding to any commands by the school staff.” The assistant principal asked the deputy to help bring him back to the office, the report said.
A video that has now gone viral shows the deputy running after the sixth-grader, who was walking away from the officer. In a scene that you would expect to see in a professional wrestling ring, the deputy grabbed the child, picked him up and threw him to the ground. The boy was then handcuffed and taken away.
The deputy’s reported excuse for the violent takedown was that the child was ignoring his commands and “continued walking with his fist clenched and had an agitated expression on his face. His brows were turned down and he was punching his fist into the palm of his hand.”
Time and again, we’ve seen videos of officers in schools using excessive force against Black students. This case highlights the racial disparity in school disciple of Black students that has fueled the school-to-prison pipeline.
The Obama administration tried to tackle that problem. African-American students are three times more likely than white students to be expelled or suspended, according to an Obama-era resource guide for school superintendents. The disparities start early. Black children represented just 18 percent of preschoolers but nearly half of preschoolers suspended more than once. There were 10,393 education-based civil rights complaints in fiscal year 2015, according to a report, titled “Delivering Justice.”
Reacting to the video, General Platt, a parent at the school, said, “That’s kind of rough to be at a school campus, he didn’t have to slam him down like that. If the kid was fighting him back and he felt like he was in some kind of danger, then I could justify his actions, but it didn’t appear to be that way.”