According to a recent report by the Houston Chronicle, police officers in Houston area school districts have used force on students and trespassers over 1,300 times over the past four years. Certainly, school police officers provide an invaluable service by protecting students and teachers. However, reports of the use of excessive or unnecessary force raise concerns regarding the safety local students.
For example, in May of 2014 a Pasadena high school student was taken to the hospital because a school district officer allegedly struck him eighteen times with a metal nightstick. The incident occurred after the student became upset and began using profanity after school officials confiscated his cell phone.
In another alarming instance, a sheriff’s deputy assigned to Bastrop High School used a taser on a student who was attempting to break up a fight. The student fell backward and hit his head. As a result, he spent fifty-two days in a medically induced coma.
Although there are no statewide requirements for schools to report the use of force, HISD provided detailed information. They reported 36 instances where officers threatened to use pepper spray, 47 situations in which nightsticks were displayed or used, 27 gang tackles, and 122 takedowns. Additionally, officers drew their firearms 31 times. The last incident of excessive force by a HISD officer occurred in 2010, when a Yates High School student’s jaw was broken after he was punched several times.
While school district officers must use force in some cases to protect students and teachers, there are times when a line can be crossed. If you or someone you know has been injured by the use of excessive force, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.