DPS: Police acted properly in scuffle with student
Detroit Public Schools is defending its police department’s handling of a confrontation with a Cass Tech High School student last year after video footage surfaced this week that showed an officer throwing the teen down.
A five-minute long clip posted Thursday on YouTube, date stamped Dec. 9, opens with an officer struggling with the student, throwing her toward the floor, then picking an item off the floor. The student is then seen sitting in a hallway corner, surrounded by him and two other officers.
Later, one of the officers is shown struggling to bring the to her feet. As she kicks wildly, another officer drags her away. “15 yr old student gets beat and pepper sprayed by DPS POLICE at school,” reads a statement posted with the video.
In a statement Friday, DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes reviewed the video and related investigative reports.
“The Detroit Public Schools Police Department conducted a thorough investigation beginning on Dec. 12, 2015, in response to a complaint filed surrounding the actions in the video,” she said. “Judge Rhodes has reviewed the video, documentation involved in this investigation and is satisfied that this matter was appropriately addressed by the Detroit Public Schools Police Department.”
The district released reports Friday from police Chief Stacy Brackens detailing statements from the student, police officers and others who witnessed the incident. According to the report, the confrontation began when a teacher found the student was trying to ride an elevator with an expired pass.
According to the reports, the teacher who confronted the student said the girl ignored instructions not to take the elevator and became belligerent. The teacher said she requested security.
The student refused to present her ID, ran up the stairs and put on headphones to tune out an assistant principal who was trying to talk to her, the reports say.
The assistant principal grabbed the headphones off the girl, who pulled back from an officer, who warned her to stop or she would be arrested. The reports say the student began to kick the officer, tried to kick him and was warned to stop or be pepper-sprayed.
“Student ... failed to comply with (officer’s) lawful command and was sprayed ... with one (1) burst of pepper spray,” a Jan. 15 report from Brackens states.
In a statement included in the Jan. 15 report, the student said she complied with the teacher’s instruction not to take the elevator and gave her ID to a security guard when asked. She said the assistant principal then approached and began “yelling at me, and I then placed my headphone back on to tune him out.”
The student said another officer approached and said he was going to take her phone, which she refused to give him. According to the student, the officer grabbed her by the arm, threw her into the wall and pepper-sprayed her several times.