Monday, April 11, 2016

Texas School Police Officer Fired for ‘Absolutely Unwarranted’ Body Slam of 12-year-old Girl 
Monday, April 11, 2016, 9:53 PM

A Texas school police officer seen throwing a 12-year-old girl to the ground on video was fired Monday for his “absolutely unwarranted” conduct, officials said.

Footage surfaced online last week of Officer Joshua Kehm subduing Janissa Valdez March 29 at Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio. Police said she and another girl were about to fight in a hallway that afternoon when Kehm intervened.

District officials promised a full investigation, and they decided Monday to terminate Kehm’s employment, effective immediately, said San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez.

“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,” Martinez said in a statement.

“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.”

The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which is representing Kehm, has said he’s cooperating with the district’s investigation but won’t comment on it publicly until it’s complete.

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood told the Daily News on Friday he’s considering a separate investigation by his office. District officials said Monday that they will refer any criminal portion of their investigation to a third-party law enforcement agency.

“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 said.

“We know that this incident does not define our District police department, which is dedicated to serving and protecting our school community. 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.”

Janissa suffered swelling on her temple, though she told WOAI-TV she doesn’t even remember getting thrown to the ground. She received a two-day suspension after the encounter with Kehm.

Other middle school students had gathered in a hallway about 4 p.m. last week on word that Janissa and another girl were going to fight, she said.

“I was going up to her to tell her let's go somewhere else so we could talk, but that's when the cop thought I was going at her,” Janissa said. “I wasn't going to do anything.”

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