UPDATED: 5:21 p.m. ET, Jan. 28, 2021 —
Students at Liberty High School in Kissimmee, Florida, are advocating for the termination of a school resource officer who was caught on camera body-slamming a Black girl to the ground.
The officer, whose name was originally withheld, has been identified as Ethan Fournier. Students want him terminated or removed from his post in order to restore trust and safety on campus.
According to TMZ who spoke to concerned students and their families, multiple parents are considering withdrawing their children as the case gains national attention.
One student said he has lost faith in law enforcement and once trusted Fournier who reportedly participated in police brutality seminars with the school’s Black Student Union organization. Another student recounted how she observed Fournier use excessive force prior to this weeks incident, where he pepper sprayed a group embroiled in a physical altercation.
During a Wednesday press conference Osceola County Sherriff Marco López told reporters the case would be handed over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement instead of being investigated internally.
“We remove this burden off us and pass it on to a higher authority to ensure that no one can say that we’re looking out for our own,” López said during a brief press conference. “It’s the right step to go.”
He also claimed Fournier was “innocent until proven guilty.”
The students name remains withheld to protect her privacy due to the fact that she is a minor. According to a press release obtained by NewsOne, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump will represent the student and her family.
“It is unconscionable what happened to this young girl at the hands of someone whose primary duty is to serve and protect our children,” Crump said. “Students, especially minorities, have a difficult enough time feeling safe in our schools. Do we really need to add school resource officers to the list of fears they deal with on a daily basis? Deputy Fournier must be held accountable for his disturbing and violent actions by being fired and arrested. We urge FDLE to complete a swift investigation.”
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation after a haunting video circulated on the internet showing a school resource officer (SRO) using excessive force on a Black female student at Liberty High School in Kissimmee, Florida.
The incident reportedly took place on Tuesday when a school resource office threw the student to the ground. Footage filmed by other students shows the moment when the teen goes limp from the impact after her head hits the ground.
The deputy can then be seen straddling the student while pulling her arms behind her back, placing her in handcuffs as she lays unconscious on the ground.
According to WESH, the officer was removed from the campus until a decision is made at the investigation’s conclusion. Investigators have opted to withhold the name of the SRO. They are also asking witnesses to send in more footage in hopes of collecting more details.
In a statement released after the incident, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said the SRO was attempting to break up a fight between students in the hallway.
“We know that the School Resource Officer was in the process of trying to stop the student from fighting another student in the hallway when the deputy took her into custody,” the statement said. “Once we receive more information related to the incident, we will provide an updated press release.”
The statement noticeably does not address the condition of the student.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Osceola County Sherriff’s Office allows the use of force “in situations when the person has not responded to verbal commands, including in cases of self-defense, when defending someone or when there is a ‘credible threat to public safety.'”
The case harkens back to the triggering moment when a South Carolina Spring Valley High School resource officer flipped a Black teen during a confrontation in the classroom in 2015. The incident garnered national attention regarding how Black students, particularly Black girls, are treated in school. The SRO faced no charges after an investigation was launched into the incident.
Black girls are frequently subjugated to adultification, a practice where they are perceived to be older and more mature than they actually are. It opens them up to harsher treatment, where they are often punished and disciplined more severely than their counterparts.
A 2020 New York Times report which surveyed information from the Department of Education found that “Black girls are over five times more likely than white girls to be suspended at least once from school, seven times more likely to receive multiple out-of-school suspensions than white girls and three times more likely to receive referrals to law enforcement.”