Many are left in shock after a disturbing video surfaced on Facebook showing a white Indiana police officer aggressively punching a 17-year-old during a verbal altercation.
The police department claimed in a statement that the officers were called to the scene to assist with a “large fight” after an unidentified male student at Shortridge High School was placed in the custody of an Indianapolis Public School officer. Officers were requested to assist with the student's mother.
See the highly disturbing video below (viewer’s discretion advised):
According to the Daily Mail, on Thursday (Aug. 29) around 1:30 p.m., two officers from IMPD (Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department) got into an intense argument with a mother outside of Shortridge High School.
In the video, the officer, identified as Robert Lawson, can be seen striking the teenager causing him to tumble to the ground after screaming, "You want to go to jail? You want to go to jail? Let's go!"
WTHR reports that the teenager who was punched received five days of suspension from school.
Despite the video, in reports obtained by RTV6, an IMPD sergeant reported seeing the student "swing his fist at [the officer] a split second before [the officer] threw a palm strike, however [the student] did not make contact."
According to a statement by IMPD obtained by WTHR, the officer was suspended without pay.
“The video shows a clear image of a closed fist punch to the face, a technique which is not taught or reasonable given the facts known to us at this time,” Chief Bryan Roach said.
He added, “The incident has been turned over to investigators who understand this case is a priority and have been advised to be as timely as possible. In the meantime, the officer is currently suspended without pay. The facts brought forward through the ongoing investigations in both the criminal and administrative processes will then be used to determine any final decisions.”
Attorney Terrance Kinnard will reportedly be taking on the family's case, releasing the following response.
“Like many, we are shocked by the behavior depicted in the video currently circulating on social media networks. Over the coming days my staff and I will investigate all of the facts before deciding on a proper course of action,” Kinnard said.
Indianapolis Public Schools released the following statement:
"Indianapolis Public Schools requested support from IMPD yesterday at Shortridge High School due to an altercation that took place among students inside the building. The District has confirmed that following that altercation, there was an incident involving an IMPD officer striking an IPS student. We are fully engaged in and investigating this matter, while taking every step at the building level and from central office to ensure the safety and well-being of our students."
IPS superintendent Aleesia Johnson released her own statement via social media:
“As a Black woman and a mother of Black children, it isn’t possible to watch the video of the incident that occurred yesterday at Shortridge without immediately thinking about the other incidents in our country that occur between white police officers and Black people, especially males. Often, I am left feeling a number of emotions — devastation often chief among them.”
In outrage, the IMPD Transparency project has called for the officer’s removal saying in a statement, "yet another case of racist police terror was captured this week in Indianapolis."
The investigation is still ongoing.