WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WPTV) – Parents in Florida are questioning a resource officer’s tough takedown of a sixth grader that was caught on camera, but the sheriff’s department says his actions were justified.
Parents are now raising concerns after watching a viral video, recorded through a window at Lincoln Park Academy at Fort Pierce.
The 15-second video shows a Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Deputy run after a sixth grader outside the school Tuesday afternoon and slam him to the ground on the grass.
Another video then shows the student in handcuffs walking away.
“If the kid was fighting him back and the officer felt like he was in some type of danger, then I could kind of justify his actions but it doesn’t appear to be that way,” says General Platt, who has twin students at Lincoln Park Academy.
But at a news conference, Sheriff Ken Mascara said the deputy did not use excessive force and the video does not show what happened in the minutes beforehand.
“Our school resource deputy is very, very familiar with this student and knows he has a violent history, including possessing weapons,” Sheriff Mascara said.
The sheriff says the 11-year-old was aggressive during dismissal, and when the staff tried to stop him, he ran away.
The sheriff says the resource deputy then took him to the ground.
“At the end of the day, the deputy did everything he could to diffuse the situation. His use of force fell within the legal and our agency guidelines,” Sheriff Mascara said.
The sheriff says this is the only complaint of excessive force that officer has had throughout his 8 years on the job and 3 years at that school.
The student was taken to a hospital and reportedly left with a Band-Aid.
His grandfather says he is getting a mental health evaluation.