New Mexico Cop Resigns After Video Shows Him Allegedly Tackling 11-Year-Old Student With Special Needs
The school resource officer was condemned by his police chief in a videotaped statement.
A New Mexico school resource officer has resigned after video surfaced showing him allegedly roughing up an 11-year-old student with specials needs, police said.
Lapel video released by the Farmington Police Department this week appears to show Officer Zach Christensen shoving the crying sixth grader into a wall, then wrestling her to the ground as he screams "Stop resisting!"
The child, who was not identified, repeatedly cries for him to "get off of me," and at one point yells, "you're hurting me."
A school administrator can be seen asking the officer to let the student stand up. "Officer Christensen, she is not a threat to yourself or others at this moment," the official says. "You are not going to use excessive force to get this done."
The officer is seen yelling, "No. She is."
Police Chief Steve Hebbe condemned Christensen's behavior in a videotaped statement posted on the department's Facebook page.
"There's no excuse for the way this girl was treated," he said. An internal affairs investigation determined the officer violated department policy and the 11-year veteran of the force resigned on Oct. 1, Hebbe said.
"Like many of you, I was shocked and angry when I watched this video," Hebbe said. "We value our relationship with our community and will continue to work hard to maintain the public's confidence in our department."
Christensen's supervisor was also demoted and reassigned, Hebbe said.
The department also posted more than an hour of video captured by Christensen's lapel camera on its YouTube channel.
The footage appears to show the officer following the girl around the school as faculty members try to get her to sit down and wait for her mother. Christensen is heard saying the child had been disruptive in class and "took more milks than she was supposed to" in the cafeteria.
He also appears to pin the girl to the ground as he tries to force her hands behind her back to handcuff her. Eventually, he allows her to get to her feet.
Hebbe said Christensen had accused the girl of assaulting him and other school administrators, but the internal affairs investigation found those to be false. State police and the San Juan County District Attorney's Office have said neither the officer nor the girl faced criminal charges, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said his office would investigate the incident.
An attorney for the girl's family said a tort claim has been filed, which usually precedes a civil lawsuit.
The child suffered a mild concussion and cuts and bruises from the encounter, Hebbe said.
Christensen has not publicly commented on the incident.
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