A police officer seen in a video body-slamming a sixth-grade student to the floor on March 29 in Texas, was fired from his job Monday, officials from San Antonio Independent School District said in a statement, according to reports. However, the statement added that the investigation into the case was ongoing.
The school officials “made the decision to terminate the employment of Officer Joshua Kehm, effective immediately,” the statement said, according to NBC News.
San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez told the San Antonio Express-News that Kehm did not report the incident back to the district immediately as required by protocol, and when he did submit the report, it was “inconsistent with the video.” Kehm had reportedly suggested that the girl had fallen down.
“We understand that situations can sometimes escalate to the point of requiring a physical response; however, in this situation we believe that the extent of the response was absolutely unwarranted,” Martinez said in the statement, according to the Washington Post.
Martinez said that the district is looking into other possible actions and inaction by school administrators. “We want to be clear that we will not tolerate this behavior,” he reportedly added.
The body-slam video showed 12-year-old student, Janissa Valdez, being picked up by Kehm and slammed face-first to the ground. The incident occurred at Rhodes Middle School in Tampico St, San Antonio. Valdez told ABC affiliate KSAT, after the incident, that she was meeting another student to talk to her for making comments on her, when the police officer turned violent.
“I was walking toward her, telling her, ‘Let’s go somewhere else,’ because there was a lot of people,” Valdez said, according to KSAT, adding: “Then that’s when other people came over and the officer thought we were going to fight.”
Valdez had hit a brick pathway due to the body-slam and was left with a swollen bruise near her right eye. Gloria Valdez, the student’s mother, said that she reached the school to pick up her daughter soon after the incident, according to KSAT. She also said that she had seen the video several times.
“I was upset. I was angry, because I still couldn't believe that he had done that to her," Gloria said, adding: “And then she told me ‘Mom, I wasn't fighting. Why would he do that?’”
Judith Browne Dianis, co-director for Advancement Project, a civil rights organization, said last week, according to the Post, that the incident highlights the “urgent need” to remove police officers from school.
“It is unconscionable for a 12-year-old student involved in a verbal altercation to be brutalized and dehumanized in this manner,” Dianis reportedly said. “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.”