A school resource officer was filmed picking up a female high school student and slamming her to the ground in a video posted on social media on 3 January.
The eight-second video was reportedly filmed following a fight between two girls in the cafeteria of Rolesville high school. The girl in the video, Jasmine Darwin, spoke to local news channel WRAL-TV and explained she was trying to break up the fight between her sister and another student, when she was lifted up and thrown to the ground. "Every time I look at it, it's embarrassing," Darwin said of the video. "I didn't even realise it happened. Like, I was in shock."
Her mother, Desiree Harrison, told the news channel she feels the officer's actions were excessive. "When I'm looking at this video, I'm like: 'Oh my god, this cannot be happening to my child' because I was just up at the school and they didn't even tell me what happened to her," Harrison said. "They were so busy trying to get rid of the one who was in a fight but didn't even say something about the one that was not involved in anything."
Officer Ruben De Los Santos was put on paid administrative leave as the police as the school investigate the accident, the latest in a series of episodes in which security officials are seen using excessive violence against unarmed teens. A video emerged of an officer punching a girl as she lays on the ground in Philadelphia on 2 January. In April 2016, a school police officer in Texas was fired after slamming a 12-year old girl to the ground, using a similar throw technique to that used by the officer in North Carolina.
More footage of the incident is expected to be examined, including the school's camera footage and the officer's body camera. De Los Santos is a member of the Rolesville police department and has been assigned to the school since it opened in 2013, the Associated Press reported.
"Two years ago, our school district enacted a unified agreement with all local law enforcement agencies that provides training and a clear understanding of the duties and responsibilities for School Resource Officers. As part of the investigation, the district and law enforcement are reviewing those standards," read a statement from Dhedra Lassiter, the school principal, who said she was "very concerned" about the incident.
Several students have taken to Twitter to denounce the girl's treatment, suggesting that it may not have been an isolated accident.
North Carolina is one of the 38 states in the US that lack legislation specifying training requirements for officers deployed to schools, according to an investigation in The Atlantic published in November 2015.
For the 12 states that do have laws, legislation on the matter is inconsistent: some states mandate training on how to respond to an active shooter, fewer focus on how dealing with minors is different from dealing with adults.
"All officers are getting a certain level of training that they're required to get as police officers," Nina Salomon, a senior policy analyst at the Council of State Governments Justice Center, told The Atlantic. "The additional training that we're talking about – on youth development, on working with youth, on prevention and de-escalation – hasn't typically been received by the majority of law enforcement that work with youth inside a school building, or that are called to campus."