Officials from a Texas school district have fired a police officer who was caught on video seemingly body-slamming a 12-year-old girl.
Police officer Joshua Kehm was dismissed from his post following an investigation about the video that circulated online showing him restraining and throwing down sixth grader Janissa Valdez.
School officials from the San Antonio Independent School District said Kehm's actions were unreasonable, uncalled for and must not be tolerated.
District Superintendent Pedro Martinez understands that incidents may arise that would require a physical response from officers, but the action Kehm took was unwarranted. He believes Kehm failed to accurately report the incident immediately.
Martinez shared that Kehm's incident report claimed Valdez had fallen down, which seemed to be inconsistent with what was recorded on video.
The student from Rhodes Middle School shared in an interview that the incident occurred after school hours on March 29.
Valdez met with another student to settle some issues when other students started to convene in the hall to watch whether a fight would ensue.
"Other people came over and the officer thought we were going to fight," Valdez recounted.
The video, which was uploaded on YouTube, shows Kehm holding Valdez from behind as fellow students shouted to Valdez. Kehm is then seen throwing the student to the ground, face first, before handcuffing and escorting her out of the hall.
"The video is very disturbing," Leslie Price, district spokeswoman, said. She added that an investigation, both by the administration and police, was carried out as soon as officials got wind of the incident when the video went viral on social media.
Charley Wilkinson of the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas said Kehm expressed his intent to cooperate with the investigation. The union will help Kehm with whatever legal representation is necessary.
However, Wilkinson is particularly concerned about the process undertaken by the police department.
"The department acted before it has had time to fully evaluate all of the facts in the matter," he said.
Civil rights advocates were enraged by the incident and questioned the need for police officers stationed in schools.
"Once again, a video captured by a student offers a sobering reminder that we cannot entrust school police officers to intervene in school disciplinary matters that are best suited for trained educators and counselors," said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director for the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization.
Dianis also raised the issue of discrimination, pointing out that what happened was not an isolated incident. She cited similar incidents in Tampa and Baltimore where students were assaulted by police officers over minor offenses. She said that incidents like these follow a recognizable pattern and should raise concern among school officials.
"We cannot wait for another violent video of police brutality in our schools to surface before we take action," Dianis added.
Martinez realizes the sensitivity of the matter and assured the public that there would be no bias in the investigation.
"We all want to make sure this kind of incident does not occur again, and we will seek to identify areas where improvement may be needed," he said.
Watch the viral video below and tell us what you think.