A Camden, Arkansas student resource officer has been put on paid leave after a disturbing video circulated online of him placing a high school student in a chokehold and lifting from the ground as others are screaming for the officer to release him.
In the footage, the officer, Jake Perry is seen trying to detain the teen, identified as Dekyrion Ellis, a student at Camden Fairview High School, after an argument between himself and another student.
“I feared for my life,” Ellis told West Monroe, Louisiana station KTVE. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I blacked out. I really didn’t see anything until he took me back to the office.”
After seeing the video, Camden Police Chief Bo Woody took action and released a statement saying the officer was taken off the job.
“Because of the video I saw, effective immediately, Officer Perry has been relieved of his duties pending the investigation and the outcome of it,” said Woody, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “I just wanted everybody to know, including the mayor that as the police chief, I’m not going to tolerate misconduct from officers from this department."
The chief had seen the video on Facebook and has spoken to Perry, who has given statements to investigators and that a Criminal Investigation Division captain has been assigned to the case, according to the Democrat-Gazette.
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Woody told KTVE that Perry has been with the police department for two years and had worked in the schools before this incident. “I’ve never had an incident with him,” he said. “He’s well received in the community. He’s lived here all of his life and never had an incident like this.”
However, Ellis family members say what they’ve heard paints a different picture of the officer.
“I have inboxes from people that don’t know me but know the officer that’s in the video and one word they described him was a bully,” Ellis’s father, Dexter Parker told KTVE. His mother, Alona Parker, said she found out about the video after getting several calls about it. When she went to Facebook and saw it for herself, she went to the school at once.
“My son couldn’t even breathe,” she said. “It was just really uncalled for.”
Woody told the Democrat-Gazette that Perry was wearing a body camera, but he had not seen the footage from it yet. In his interaction with the officer, he said Perry told him he was responding to a report of a fight between Ellis and another student and was trying to detain him. But it is unclear what supposedly warranted a chokehold.
Officers, he said, must consider the age of an individual and the circumstance in deciding what type of force should be used or whether they should be taken into custody.
Camden Fairview School District Superintendent Fred Lilly said in a statement that the district would “fully cooperate with the CPD’s investigation. In order to prevent similar incident from occurring in the future, CFSD will work with the CPD to ensure that current policies and procedures for all SRO’s stationed at CFSD schools are reviewed and revised if necessary.“
Ellis family reportedly took him in for medical treatment, where a doctor took x-rays of his neck. He received some scratches on his arm, but no major injury was reported. “He could’ve taken me to the office,” he said. “He didn’t have to restrain me. It wasn’t like I was trying to get away from him. I wasn’t resisting arrest.”