A San Antonio Independent School District police officer filmed body-slamming a pre-teen female middle school student onto a brick walkway, has been fired.
District Officials said Officer Joshua Kehm was removed from his position on Monday as investigators reviewed the March 29 incident at Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio, Texas in which he was filmed restraining 12-year-old Janissa Valdez and then throwing her to the ground.
According to the girl’s mother, Gloria Valdez, Kehm had said Janissa was having a confrontation with another student and tried to kick him but the woman claims that is not true and asserts that her daughter was merely having a normal conversation with a peer when Kehm attacked her unprovoked.
Janissa said that she and another student had met after school to discuss comments the other student had made about her when other kids surrounded them to see if the two girls planned on fighting.
“I was walking toward her, telling her, ‘Let’s go somewhere else,’ because there was a lot of people,” Janissa said. “Then that’s when other people came over and the officer thought we were going to fight.”
Cellphone footage filmed from the scene begins by showing officer Kehm bear-hugging the 12-year-old from behind as she appears to be struggling to free herself from his grasp.
“Janissa, chill,” one student can be heard saying before Kehm picks the middle-schooler up off the ground. He is then seen throwing her backwards onto the brick walkway as a crowd of her classmates gasp.
“Janissa, are you OK?” the student asks as the pre-teen lay motionless on the ground appearing to be knocked unconscious. “She landed on her face.”
The footage shows Kehm then handcuff the girl behind her back and bring her to her feet. Fighting back tears, she is led away by the bully cop.
Watch the raw footage:
Following the incident, Janissa’s parents said their daughter experienced severe headaches as a result of the take-down and condemned the officer’s actions saying it was painful to see a grown man doing what he did to their loved one.
“I want to confront the officer, but thought it would be better to do everything legally,” father, Raul Valdez said. “I want justice for my daughter. These police are getting out of hand. They think they are above the law.”
Executive director of communication for SAISD, Leslie Price, said last week that the district had launched an investigation into the incident and placed Kehm on indefinite paid leave pending the result.
Kehm was terminated from his position on Monday after district officials determined that his use of force was excessive. In addition, they found that the officer had failed to report the incident to the district, which is a requirement when students are physically restrained.
“That did not happen,” Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. “When the police officer did submit a report, it was not at all consistent with the video.”
Martinez said Kehm’s report suggested that Janissa had fallen down, and added, “We believe that the extent of the response was absolutely unwarranted…We want to be clear that we will not tolerate this behavior.”
Similar incidents involving school cops brutalizing students routinely make rounds on social media. In one of the latest encounters, two Baltimore city schools police officers were criminally charged last month after one of them was filmed repeatedly slapping and then kicking a 16-year-old boy.
Charley Wilkison, the executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said his group plans on representing Kehm during an appeal against his termination to ensure that “all of his rights are upheld.”