The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after Ohio school resource officer decided to deploy a taser on a 17-year-old student at the Wayne County Schools Career Center on Tuesday afternoon while trying to de-escalate a behavioral incident.
The unidentified student had just returned to the high school after a suspension, and was violating dress code by showing up wearing bright orange cargo pants instead of the school uniform that all students are required to wear. A verbal altercation ensued between the teen and the dean of students, Bruce Woodruff. The school’s superintendent, Kip Crain, told Yahoo Lifestyle the student was offered scrubs to wear in the meantime, and was given the option of contacting his parents or guardians to drive his uniform to the school.
But the teenager allegedly refused to cooperate, and instead stormed out of Woodruff’s office and into the common area, where his classmates were eating lunch. Woodruff then requested that the school’s resource officer, Deputy Matt Little — who is employed by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office — follow the defiant student and intervene in the situation. A second altercation, which was captured on video by another student, then broke out between the student and Deputy Little. In the video, the deputy can be seen trying to restrain the student’s right arm, but the teen pulls away from his grip and casually heads back into the common area.
That’s when Deputy Little and Woodruff — along with the school’s security guard — confront the boy and try to restrain him again. He frees himself from their grip, but he’s surrounded. The teen is heard saying, “I didn’t do nothing,” while the deputy demands that he return to the dean’s office. After the student fails to comply, the deputy has him turn around and put his hands on the wall. Then the student turns around and appears to smile at the deputy, who then removes his taser from its holster and uses it to subdue him. The student falls to the floor, and the officer tases him a second time, causing him to roll over.
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has now launched an investigation into the incident. “School officials and the deputy tried to contain that [situation] away from that area, but the young man moved into that area on his own,” Wayne County Sheriff’s Capt. Doug Hunter told local Cleveland news station WEWS-TV. “The young man was given numerous opportunities not to get into any trouble at all or be involved in any type of physical altercation.”
Crain told Yahoo Lifestyle that the deputy was trying to de-escalate the situation. “[The student] was told if he needed to blow off stream or decompress after he had his blowup that he was to go to the front office,” he said, adding that the student refused. “He started throwing F bombs and threatened the officer, and that’s when the officer was afraid that he was going to come at one of them or the students.” Capt. Hunter told WEWS-TV that’s the deputy determined that tasing was necessary. “After the student threatened to punch him,” he said, “the deputy discharged the taser and essentially ended the incident.”
Capt. Hunter said the taser was a less harmful alternative than a physical fight. “Potentially, the risk of injury would be much greater than the taser,” he said, adding that although the deputy used the taser twice, the probes that carry the electrical current only touched the student once. According to WEWS, the second attempt to tase the student came when the teen refused to put his arms behind his back. Photos of marks left behind by the taser have appeared online.
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Ultimately, EMS were called to examine the student, as tasers can deliver 50,000 volts of electricity and have been known to cause short-term cognitive dysfunction, according to Popular Mechanics. The school declared the student unharmed and sent him home. Superintendent Crain confirmed the student had “prior disciplinary issues.” School officials are scheduled to meet with the boy’s parents on Thursday to determine whether he will be allowed back in the school. “We’d like to this to be successful, but he’s got to keep himself under control,” Crain told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“It’s like seeing your kid being electrocuted,” the boy’s mother, Dainyelle Adams, told local news station WKYC. “It didn’t have to escalate to that.” The mom took to Facebook to express that she does not approve of her son’s behavior, but that she feels “things could have been handled differently,” adding, “he didn’t have to be tased multiple times or even at all.” She denies that the school ever called her to bring him the proper clothes. Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to Adams, and will update this story when she responds.
In the meantime, the resource officer has been temporarily reassigned and replaced with “a different resource officer who’s a little more patient, and who we think will be working with us the remainder of the school year,” Crain said. The results of the investigation — which is being conducted with the assistance of an outside agency, in the interest of full transparency — will determine whether Deputy Little’s use of force is deemed reasonable. If so, he’ll have the opportunity to resume his duties at the school at the discretion of the dean and the superintendent.
Crain told Yahoo Lifestyle that the reaction from parents and students has been mixed, with some calling in upset and others expressing thanks for keeping the kids safe. He said that Deputy Little was new to the school this year. “He was trying to follow his training. He’s a law enforcement officer and was trying to keep the kids and staff safe.” He said that in his 15 years at Wayne County Schools Career Center, this incident is unprecedented. “We definitely wouldn’t want any officer [tasing students], but that’s what happened.”
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