Race and Equity

School police have used electroshock weapons on at least 4 kids since August

They’ve used Tasers in at least 84 other incidents since 2011

The video starts with a fight between two high school girls. It ends with both of them on the ground, screaming, after having thousands of volts of electricity shot into their bodies. The entire incident lasts less than one minute.

The two girls are part of a group of at least four students that school-based police officers have used Tasers on since the start of the 2016-2017 school year, according to media reports The Huffington Post has tracked. Nationwide, school police have used Tasers on students in at least 84 other incidents since 2011, according to an August HuffPost investigation.

School had only been in session for about a month when the incident with the two girls took place at Leesburg High School in Florida. Two school-based police officers ― also called school resource officers ― tried to break up the fight. They warned the teens they would use a Taser if they did not stop, according to Florida outlet WKMG-TV on Sept. 11. One girl had to be transported to a local hospital after a Taser probe got stuck under her arm, the outlet said.

“That was the safest way to make sure these students are going to be safe,” said local police sergeant Fred Jones of the incident to news outlet WFTV.

Another student captured it all on camera in the video below. (Warning: the video shows violent scenes.)

A school police officer used a Taser on another student on his first day of school at E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Aug. 29. The incident occurred after the 18-year-old reportedly blocked a classroom door in such a way that prevented students and staff from entering and exiting, according to documents from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. After the student refused to move, the school resource officer tried to put him in handcuffs.

When the student still resisted, the officer used a Taser on him.

The student, “caused a disturbance interferring [sic] with the teaching of that class and adjacent classes as students attempted to see why the defendent [sic] was causing the disturbance,” according to an arrest warrant for the student, who was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting a public officer.

The final incident took place in late September, at Middleton High School in Wisconsin. This episode started when two people, who were not students at Middleton, tried to separately enter the school during lunch time. The trespassers ― who were quickly escorted out ― had a negative history with one Middleton student, according to district spokesperson Perry Hibner. The appearance of one of the trespassers caused the Middleton student to become increasingly agitated.

The student wouldn’t calm down, and after multiple warnings, a school resource officer used a Taser on him, Hibner said.

There is little official data on how often school police have used Tasers on students at school. The use of these devices have resulted in devastating physical effects. In 2013, Texas high school student Noe Nino de Rivera was stunned at school after trying to break up a school fight, according to reports from his attorney. After the Taser was fired, Nino de Rivera fell to the ground, hit his head and spent nearly two months in a medically induced coma.

In response to the incident, a coalition of civil rights groups tried topush efforts to restrict the use of Tasers in schools. Their efforts have failed thus far.

The use of such weapons on children is unconscionable,” said Lauren Rose of Texans Care for Children in a 2014 press release. “Tasers are not allowed for use on youth in Texas’ juvenile lockups, and they should not be allowed for use on Texas’ school children.”

But others have argued that they a necessary weapon to use to diffuse dangerous situations, even on schoolchildren. Texas Municipal Police Association executive director Kevin Lawrence used a hypothetical situation in a 2015 interview with HuffPost, where a small, female school police officer is tasked with breaking up a fight between two big, high school boys.

“Your job is to break up that fight. If you don’t, one of them is going to get seriously hurt. But if you get between them you’re going to get seriously hurt. Should you have the option of using a Taser?” asked Lawrence. “If you don’t have intermediate force options, the next step is deadly force. Do we want to go straight from verbal commands to shooting people?”

Unlike most of our stories, this piece is an exclusive collaboration and may not be republished.

Add Comment
comments powered by Disqus

Rebecca Klein

Rebecca Klein is the editor of education news for The Huffington Post. See Archive