Crime

Police officer who slammed Wake County student to floor placed on leave

Video shows police officer slamming female student to the ground

A video posted Jan. 3, 2017 on Twitter appears to show a police officer body slamming a female Rolesville High School student in the wake of a large fight at the school.
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A video posted Jan. 3, 2017 on Twitter appears to show a police officer body slamming a female Rolesville High School student in the wake of a large fight at the school.

A Rolesville police officer has been placed on administrative leave after a video showing him slamming a female student to the floor gained national attention Tuesday.

The nine-second video posted on Twitter on Tuesday shows Officer Ruben De Los Santos lifting the student into the air and dropping her to the floor before leading her away from a crowd of students at Rolesville High School.

De Los Santos, the school resource officer assigned to the high school, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston said Tuesday evening.

Langston also said that he has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the incident.

A second video that was circulated Tuesday on social media shows a fight involving two other girls at the school shortly before the officer slammed the student to the ground. Langston said De Los Santos had responded to a fight around 7:10 a.m. Tuesday in the school’s cafeteria area.

“We will work diligently to review any and all pertinent information so that we provide an accurate account of the events,” Langston said in a prepared statement. “We ask the community and all members involved to be patient while we investigate this matter.”

A second video shows the fight that leads up to a Rolesville Police officer slamming a student to the floor. It is not clear if that student was involved in the initial fight.

Some Rolesville High School students and others in the community posted on Twitter demanding to know what happened.

Wake County school officials said they’re investigating and will keep families at the school informed about what they learn.

“This morning, school staff addressed an altercation in the hallway of our school,” Rolesville High Principal Dhedra Lassiter said in a phone message to the school’s families Tuesday evening. “An SRO assigned to our school responded to the fight. A video of the incident, widely shared on social media, has prompted questions about the response.

“WCPSS security is currently in the process of working with the Rolesville Police Department to gather all of the details about the incident to ensure that appropriate action is taken.”

In a second message to parents Tuesday, Lassiter said the incident is leading to the district and law enforcement reviewing an agreement approved two years ago that governs how school resource officers operate in Wake schools.

“I understand this incident brings up questions and conversations about the manner in which we keep students and staff safe in our schools,” Lassiter said in the message. “We will continue to be in conversation as we learn additional information.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said Tuesday it is also investigating.

“We’re very disturbed by what we saw in the video,” said Irena Como, staff attorney for the group. “This kind of force, especially with kids in schools, is never justified.”

Ahunna Akpuda, a Rolesville High student whose tweet about the video has gone viral, wrote online that the student was trying to defend her sister who was fighting with another girl.

“Then the cop came outta nowhere,” Akpuda tweeted.

Akpuda tweeted that the student has a few minor injuries “but nothing extremely serious.”

Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles said there is body-camera footage because the Rolesville Police Department announced in August that all officers would be issued a body camera.

Tanya Pearson, the parent of a sophomore at Rolesville High, said she was “shocked and disgusted” by the incident. Pearson said she first learned about the situation when her daughter texted her about it.

Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston tells the Rolesville Board of Commissioners that Officer Ruben De Los Santos has been placed on paid administrative leave after video surfaced on Twitter showing him slamming a Rolesville High female student

The school system contracts with law enforcement agencies to provide an armed officer at every high school and most middle schools. The officers provide security, speak in classes and mentor students.

Officers are supposed to receive training in areas such as working with students with disabilities and special needs, cultural competency and nondiscriminatory administration of school discipline.

De Los Santos has served as a school resource officer with the Rolesville Police Department since February 2012, according to his LinkedIn page.

Other videos showing confrontations between police officers and students in schools have generated national attention.

A 2015 video of a South Carolina sheriff’s deputy tossing a student from her desk went viral, resulting in the officer being fired.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

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