Updated: SAISD Officer Body Slams 12-Year-Old at Westside School

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Editor’s note: SAISD released the following statement on Friday morning, confirming that investigators are looking into the alleged use of excessive force by a campus police officer. 

"The District is continuing today to investigate the Rhodes Middle School incident. We anticipate that we will have all of the reports and information we need by the end of the day to help us determine what actions we will take in response to the incident. And we expect to finalize decisions on appropriate actions to take by early next week.

Through our investigation, we are seeking details on what led up to this incident and how it was handled. This goes beyond the officer’s handling of the situation to examine the administrative response as well. We are working to interview as many witnesses as possible, to ensure we take the appropriate action. We do not tolerate excessive force in this District."

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San Antonio Independent School District officials have opened an investigation into an incident at Rhodes Middle School captured on a smart phone camera that shows an uniformed campus police officer physically picking up a pre-teen student, body slamming her to the ground, placing her in handcuffs while she lies face down on the ground, and then leading her away. The incident is said to have occurred Tuesday, March 29 outside the school building at the Westside campus.

A video of the incident was posted on the local online blog Ghost-0 and has been widely shared on social media. Another student can be heard on the video asking the student if she okay, but any response she made cannot be heard. The video identifies the girl as a 12-year-old student, but SAISD has not released her identity.

“District administration learned late last night about the video and this incident,” said district spokesperson Leslie Price on April 6. "This video is very concerning and we are working to get the details to what occurred. We have launched an official investigation.”

On April 7, SAISD released this statement:

 "The District launched an investigation yesterday into the incident shown on the video that occurred at Rhodes Middle School. It’s important that the investigation be done appropriately and in a timely manner.  Texas state law requires an investigation to be conducted following a complaint filed against an officer, before that officer can be subject to any disciplinary action. The officer was placed on leave Wednesday morning, pending the outcome of the investigation. We are working to interview as many witnesses as possible, to ensure we take the appropriate action."

Officer Joshua Kehm, the subject of the investigation, has been a district officer since March 2015. Students interviewed at the campus by the Rivard Report said Kehm has a history of inappropriate physical discipline, especially with female students. The parent of one of the school's teachers said his daughter made the same observation to him.

Christina Amador stands next to her vehicle after picking up her children from Rhodes Middle School Roy, 14 and Jacelle, 13. Photo by Scott Ball.

Christina Amador stands next to her vehicle after picking up her children from Rhodes Middle School Roy, 14 and Jacelle, 13. Photo by Scott Ball.

According to Christina Amador and her 13-year-old daughter, Jacelle Amador, a Rhodes 7th grader, this isn't Kehm's first negative interaction with a female student.

"(Jacelle) said that when boys fight (Kehm) doesn't treat them like that, it's like he's scared, but he's rough with the girls (when they fight)," Christina said.

None of the school's administrators or teachers, she added, informed students or parents about the altercation that was captured on video.

Christina's son Roy, 14, is also a 7th grader at the school who said that the girl is one of his friends. Neither he nor Jacelle actually witnessed the incident, and have only heard from the student, who has yet to return to school, via social media.

"I didn't know that it had happened, but the next day everybody was talking about it at school and I saw the video," Jacelle said. "(The student in the video) posted on Snapchat that her head was hurting and that she had a big bruise."

First year Principal Chris Castro walks back to Rhodes Middle School from the parking lot. Photo by Scott Ball.

First year Principal Christopher Castro walks back into Rhodes Middle School from the parking lot. Photo by Scott Ball.

It could not be immediately determined if the school's principal or other district officials have received prior complaints about Kehm's treatment of students, and if so, whether those reports were acted on, or if Kehm has been previously disciplined.

School Principal Christopher Castro declined to speak to a reporter on Wednesday, and referred all inquiries to the district' central office.

Family members of the student have posted remarks on Facebook, and are quoted on the blog as saying that the girl was having a confrontational conversation with her friend when the officer intervened. A Facebook user who identified himself  the student’s older cousin stated that it appeared the two girls were on the verge of fighting when the officer moved in. The girl’s mother is quoted on the Ghost-0 site as saying the conversation with her friend was peaceful and that her daughter now suffers from headaches.

Price said Kehm was placed on paid leave this morning pending the outcome of the investigation. District officials said they are committed to establishing exactly what happened, but do not intend to release details until the investigation is complete.

“We’re not going to tolerate excessive force, by any means,” Price said.

Henry Rodriguez, executive director of the local chapter of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), heard about the incident yesterday from Patti Radle, president of the SAISD board. He said several concerned LULAC members came to him to express frustration.

"My people are wanting (Kehm) to be fired immediately, and I tend to (agree) with them," he said. "(San Antonio police) by and large are law-abiding people, but there's always those bad apples that ruin it for others."

Rodriguez is hoping that more specific details about the encounter emerge in the investigation, and is counting on the district to "do what they have to do" when it comes to reaching a proper solution.

"I hope this investigation goes by quick. ... Everybody talks about kids being disrespectful," he said, but that's no excuse for excessive force.

LULAC Concilio Zapatista 4383 Founder Henry Rodriguez stands in front of Rhodes Middle School after receiving multiple calls about the situation. Photo by Scott Ball.

LULAC Executive Director Henry Rodriguez stands in front of Rhodes Middle School after receiving multiple calls about a physical altercation between a campus police officer and a female student. Photo by Scott Ball.

This story has been updated with information provided by SAISD on Thursday morning and Rivard Report reporter Camille Garcia, who performed interviews at the school.

 

https://rivardreport.wildapricot.org

 

 CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the officer involved as one of SAPD. The officer involved is an SAISD officer. 

Top image: A smart phone video taken by an unidentified bystander first posted on the Ghost-0 blog.

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46 thoughts on “Updated: SAISD Officer Body Slams 12-Year-Old at Westside School

    • haha yes. Shouldn’t be struggling with a little girl. But our police officers don’t really get the all of the training they need, many of them have to pay for their training to become truly proficient.

  1. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for man handling a Child like this- children escalate situations, adults are supposed to be smart enough to de-escalate situations. If you can’t handle your job, you don’t deserve said job. I look forward to a full and transparent investigation into this. Stop defending child abuse- a badge is no excuse!

    • I think there is an excuse. She’s resisting an authority that has no judge and jury and has to make serious decisions in the moment. I’m guessing you have no experience as a police officer. Plus there is no context with this video. Even if the officer made a mistake, are we expecting every officer to be perfect? It’s structural violence that comes with our expectation of police to maintain order at schools.

      • You do not need experience as a police officer to know this is wrong, you do not need experience as a police officer to know how to subdue someone without causing serious injury to them, YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE EXPERIENCE AS A POLICE OFFICER TO KNOW YOU SHOULD NOT SERIOUSLY INJURE A CHILD.

        No I do not expect police officers to be perfect but this is a line that is easy to see and you do not need any experience or training to not cross it, this is a mistake that is inexcusable.

        You are one of two things or possibly both, you are either a police apologist or you are very stupid.

        • Wow, I thought the comments were supposed to be civil here…

          You need to be in the shoes of that police officer at that moment to know what exactly was going on. What if the girl had just beaten someone to an inch of their life? You don’t know. There’s no context here. The child was not seriously injured, she got up from the incident with consciousness and with no blood.

          Also, I’m not a police apologist, I believe our police have way too much authority. But if we are going to give them authority, they have to be able to exercise it fully. And If I was a police officer, I would certainly not take chances to cause injury to myself or others for the safety of a criminal or identified suspect.

          • The child is not a criminal. She has not been proven criminal. Among the duties that police officers have is to defuse conflict NOT increase it. The police officer was definitely abusing his authority. He is bigger, stronger and he already had the student in a hold. To slam her on the pavement like that is absolutely horrifying. SAISD should make a stronger statement that this sort of behavior is not t be tolerated and should put him on leave WITHOUT pay. If a parent applied such poor parenting skills, they would surely be put to jail. But because it’s a police officer, somehow he is given the benefit of the doubt that he was justified to do that. That’s wrong.

          • So, what you are saying is that a twelve year old girl in a verbal argument with another student at school should be identified as a criminal and brutally subdued because you are scared that the twelve year old girl may injure you. Then you and Joshua Kehm are cowards and should never be police officers nor commenters on how children should be policed at school (…and they should not be being policed by these idiots in the first place).

  2. The principle I spoke with told me that there could have been a context in which this was acceptable, and he didn’t want to say the officer was at fault.

    • I think this is the voice of reason if you agree with what our police officers have been tasked to do and the laws they are employed to uphold. Resisting police authority is going to end badly for citizens (and yes, children) most of the time. You can’t ask an officer to ever put themselves in danger because their actions might be presented through an extremely non-journalistic youtube video.

    • Easy to say while you are watching a 10 second video at work… You have no idea how the officer felt and what he was experiencing while she was violently resisting his authority.

  3. This is the reason why police officers, let alone contracted corporate own police officers, shouldn’t be an extension to school punishment. I understand the reason to have them, but they make a harmless situation worse and they take advantage of the student, who are drastically not consider to be adults in this case.

  4. Well I’m not sure what’s more disturbing the actions of the officer or people thinking it’s ok to slam someone to the ground needles to say a child for “disobeying”.
    I’ve run into plenty of disrespectful “adults” and never once thought it would be justified to slam them on the ground.
    There are many great police officers that do serve and protect our community and then we have those that abuse their power. This is not a good, moral way to teach children respect.

  5. This is wrong on all sorts of levels. From the impact on this girl going forward here on. From the way he restrained her before throwing her down, and from the fact that the real audience wasn’t just broadcast everywhere on social media and the news, but right in front him, the girl’s peers. He just recruited a network of haters for every man and woman who wear his uniform.

  6. No excuse for this police officer to abuse this 12 year old girl. This is plain and simple police abuse of a child. Time for him to get fired and the family to hire a good attorney.

  7. they should just remove the cops from schools and let the school and parents fend for themselves I bet they will cry because nobody wants to protect their kid… students are known to be uncooperative .. good for the cop…rolling my eyes..the girl looks fine…if they can fight all balling like that…believe me, what the officer did was nothing compared to what these kids do to each other… if it was my kid? my kid wouldn’t be in that situtation, he knows to respect an officer… two he sure as hell wouldn’t be going to that school.
    I love how people are like oh she is 12 and petite.. that girl didn’t even look 12 …. life I said…no cops on at schools and don’t call 911 to help remove problem kids…let the school and parents figure it out… LOL

    • We should expand the tea party gun law so that these kids can bring guns to school and settle these things for themselves.

  8. sadly we are only shown a small part of it. this school is known for uncoopertative students and constant fighting…yes they should take away officers, let the parents and school deal with it.. I bet they will cry that nobody is protecting their kids…she looks fine. If anything the parents should be embarrased..for a 12 year old fighting like she has that thug life?!?!? why are you guys acting like she didn’t have it coming…the only difference between the cop and the person she was fighting with, she won’t get any money from the kid she was fighting against… again..this is how confusion begins..people are all FAULK COPS…and nobody is saying..where did this little girl feel to fight like that..and be a girl at that?!?! cry me a river.. she looked fine.. I hope they take all cops away and not protect anymore schools. Let them and the parents handle their problems. If you guys can just hear what teachers and school officials have to do to deal with these bad ass kids… I feel sorry for the officer.

  9. Can Texas go 90 days without (messing) with our youth ? There are good cops, but it’s clearly the ones that are just here for the paycheck know the justice system 3 step program to get ” paid leave ” . If you feel this video disgusting then please let’s get this man fired .

  10. As usual. Only thing shown is the actual scene where officer is forced to do something, in this case slam the girl down on to the floor, to get control and handcuff. Never is it shown or said what occurred prior to that. I was sued many years ago in federal court for excessive force. I used a fixed object, in my case my patrol car, to pin the suspect on to to keep him from fighting and not get away. The federal court judge and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in my favor and stated it was prudent and necessary to use a fixed object to pin an unruly and violent suspect to effect an arrest. The fixed object can be anything immovable, in that case it was the floor.

  11. This actually seems like a win-win. Get rid of an aggressive cop and an aggressive kid in one day. Too bad the officer couldn’t have body slammed more of those kids.

  12. Thank you Mira . Share if you care

    PLEASE CALL Superintendent Pedro Martinez AND VOICE YOUR DISGUST!! SAISD – 141 Lavaca St., SATX- Telephone 210.554.2200
    Rhodes Middle School Principal Chris Castro
    3000 Tampico St. SATX;
    Telephone: (210) 978-7925
    “An SAISD Police Officer, Joshua Kehm, is seen in the video below body slamming a 12-year-old middle school girl, which the impact appears to have knocked her out unconscious for a brief moment. The incident took place on March 29, 2016, at Rhodes Middle-School in San Antonio, Texas.”

  13. If a parent did this to a child, they would be charged with injury to a child and CPS would intervene and take custody of the child.

  14. A full review must include the girl’s court status and a complete account of the actions leading up to the officer’s intervention.

  15. Look at it both ways. My friend’s daughter is a teacher and she was badly hurt by a student. She had to have surgery on her leg and missed months of work. This was from a hard kick to the leg. I am not saying what the officer did was right. I am saying that from what I have read this girl has been in trouble before and some are saying she assaulted him. I don’t know if this is true. When a parent quickly steps up and says, “My child can do no wrong,” this is always worrisome. The officer should be judged for what he did and the girl judged for what she did. Then place both in the proper context.

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