The Rolesville police officer who resigned after a video surfaced of him slamming a female high school student to the ground will not face criminal charges for the incident.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday that she presented a Wake County grand jury details related to the January incident in which Ruben De Los Santos, a Rolesville police officer at the time, was videotaped lifting up and throwing student Jasmine Darwin to the ground.
In a news release, Freeman said she asked the grand jury to review whether there was enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against De Los Santos for failure to discharge duties or assault on a female. The grand jury did not hand up indictments.
The incident in the Rolesville High School cafeteria gained national attention after a nine-second video of the officer and the girl went viral on social media sites.
De Los Santos, the school resource officer assigned to Rolesville High School, was put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. He resigned last week. In announcing his departure, Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston praised De Los Santos, noting that he had been selected as the department’s 2016 Officer of the Year.
“In this profession, law enforcement officers must make split-second decisions in tense and rapidly evolving circumstances,” Langston said. “Sometimes that split-second decision doesn't define the longstanding character of the officer.”
The State Bureau of Investigation reviewed the incident that started in the school cafeteria at 7:10 a.m. on Jan. 3. Two female students who had been taunting each other were ready to fight. During the altercation, the sister of one of the fighting teens became involved.
Witnesses differed on whether the teen was trying to break up the fight, as the student’s family contended, or participate.
As the fight continued, a crowd gathered. De Los Santos then stepped in and placed his hands on the upper arms of the student, according to Freeman’s report, lifted her in the air and slammed her to the ground.
The officer removed the teen from the cafeteria, talked with her and then sent her off to class. Later that day, the student was treated for a head injury at a nearby hospital and released.
Freeman said the grand jury’s decision closed her inquiry into the case. She plans to forward the case to the N.C. Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission, which certifies law enforcement officers.
“Our law enforcement officers are engaged daily in difficult interactions where they often are required to intervene,” Freeman said in a statement. “As they strive to maintain the peace and protect our community, it’s important that proper and legal boundaries on the use of force are followed. I commend Chief of Police Bobby Langston for his willingness to invite an unbiased review of this matter and for his commitment to maintaining the public trust of his community.”