Local News

In Vance County, schools, sheriff, family find SRO's attack 'unacceptable, egregious'

Posted December 16, 2019 10:56 a.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2019 6:20 a.m. EST

— "I don't care what happened. My grandson should never have been attacked by a grown man that we trust in law enforcement," Pastor John Miles told reporters Monday afternoon.

Miles' 11-year-old grandson was the student seen in a video from Vance County Middle School being picked up and repeatedly slammed to the floor by a school resource officer.

Although the Vance County Sheriff's Office has not yet released the name of that officer, Sheriff Curtis Brame said Monday he had been fired.

Later in the afternoon, Dr. Anthony Jackson held a news conference to apologize to the community for the treatment the boy received.

"We will work tirelessly to ensure that this never happens again to another child in our school system," Jackson said.

He described the incident caught on video as "an unacceptable and egregious act."

Miles expects the officer to face criminal charges for his actions against the boy.

"I believe in my heart that charges will be brought," he said, expressing support for Brame, Vance County school administration and District Attorney Mike Waters.

"If anybody's seen the video of my grandson, it's very bad. Not just for my grandson but for any child in this world," Miles said.

The video – recorded on Thursday and made public on Friday – shows a student wearing a red top and the school resource officer in uniform walking toward the camera side by side. The officer stops, reaches out, lifts the student against the wall, flips the child head-down and slams the child to the floor. The officer then bends over, drags the student to a standing position and lets him drop a second time. As the video ends, the officer drags the student toward the camera. The officer appears to be dragging the student by the shirt.

"It just made me mad," Miles said. "Look at the video. He could have been killed."

He said that family members were focused on the child's recovery and seeing justice done. They haven't decided whether to sue over the incident.

"As a pastor I have to forgive him. I have no choice. But I still want justice done," Miles said. "As a grandfather, I'm just hurt right now."

On Monday, another parent said her child was injured by the same officer on the same day.

Rosalyn Wynn said she was on the phone with her daughter when it happened. She recalled the conversation, saying, "I am hearing her screaming. I am hearing her hollering, saying, 'You're hurting me. Stop pulling my hair.'"

School district officials reported the officer to the Vance County Sheriff's Office after the incident was captured on video shot inside the school. Sheriff Brame asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to look into the incident.

"I was stunned and shocked because I have eight grandchildren, four between the ages of 8 and 13," Sheriff Brame said Friday. "To see a child that small reminded me of one of my grandchildren."

Waters, the district attorney in Vance County, said Brame acted quickly when the video was brought to his attention.

"I've been able to assure the family that this is being conducted appropriately," Waters said.

Vance County Schools plans to suspend its agreement with the sheriff's office while they review best practices for student safety, Jackson said.

Brame said the officer had worked for the department of two years and has had no prior incidents of concern.

Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim CEO and president of the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement Monday, “The recent video of a North Carolina school resource officer repeatedly slamming a middle school student to the ground is unconscionable. Law enforcement officers are frequently brought in to schools to handle routine school discipline and this far too often is the result – an outrageously excessive use of force on young children. This must end. Our children deserve better.”

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