Less than a week after a video capturing San Antonio Independent School District Police Officer Joshua Kehm body-slamming a 12-year-old Rhodes Middle School student went viral, district officials have fired the officer.
His termination was “effective immediately,” according to a new release sent out by the district on Monday.
The physical altercation occurred on Tuesday, March 29, but the video was posted on YouTube by local blog Ghost-0 on Tuesday, April 5. SAISD officials found out about the video late Wednesday night.
“As educators, it is our responsibility to provide a safe environment for all of our students,” stated SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez in a news release. “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. Additionally, the officer’s report was inconsistent with the video and it was also delayed, which is not in accordance with the general operating procedures of the police department. We want to be clear that we will not tolerate this behavior.”
SAISD has enlisted the help of the Texas Rangers of the state’s Department of Public Safety to investigate the circumstances and context surrounding the 33-second video – what happened before and after Kehm picked up a struggling Janissa Valdez from behind and threw her to the ground. Valdez was suspended for three days and it’s still unclear what prompted the officer’s actions. He has been a district officer since March 2015 and placed on leave last week. The investigation will determine if more action is required by the district, officials said.
“We recognize the high level of emotion generated by this incident, and we want to ensure the public’s trust in this investigation, that it is being conducted without any perception of bias,” Martinez stated.
The story has been picked up by dozens of local and national news outlets. The video had about 5,000 views on Thursday, April 7. At time of publication on Monday afternoon, the video had been watched well over 2 million times.
“We know that this incident does not define our district police department, which is dedicated to serving and protecting our school community,” Martinez stated. “We all want to make sure this kind of incident does not occur again, and we will seek to identify areas where improvement may be needed.”
District officials were not immediately available for further comment on Monday afternoon.
Top image: A screen shot of a video posted by Ghost-0 supposedly captured by a Rhodes Middle School student that shows SAISD Police Officer Joshua Kehm body-slamming student Janissa Valdez on March 29, 2016.
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