A viral video showing a 12-year-old girl slammed to the ground by a school police officer is making headlines in San Antonio this week. The girl lands on a cement floor, hitting her head so hard it is audible over the roar of shouting and laughing students.
The girl is knocked unconscious and then handcuffed.
The video was recorded on March 29 at Rhodes Middle School and has sparked two San Antonio Independent School District investigations, one by the administration and one by the police.
The girl in the video is 12-year old Janissa Valdez, a sixth grader.
News4 San Antonio spoke to Janissa after the video went viral. It took several days for the cell phone video to be posted to a local blog and for her own family to be able to see it.
“Do you remember it?” reporter Emily Baucum asks.
“No,” Janissa responds.
She says the kids in the hallway had been anticipating a fight between her and another girl.
“I was going up to her to tell her let’s go somewhere else so we could talk but that’s when the cop thought I was going at her,” Janissa says.
The officer has been identified as Joshua Kehm, an officer who has served on the force for little more than one year. Officer Kehm has declined to make a statement to the press.
On Wednesday the district confirmed that the officer is on paid administrative leave. The outcome of the investigation will determine whether he keeps his job.
Janissa’s mother, Gloria Valdez told reporters that she spoke to the vice-principal of the school and to Kehm, who she says told her that, “He did what he had to do at the moment.”
“It’s very concerning. It’s alarming to see this,” said district spokesperson Leslie Price. “And while we want to get all the details, I want people to know that excessive force will not be tolerated in this district.”
This story comes one month after an incident in Baltimore where two school police officers and the head of the Baltimore School Police were put on leave after a cell phone video was released showing an officer slap and kick a high school student. The two officers were charged with assault and misconduct.