An off-duty cop hired by the Kenosha Unified School district in Wisconsin was caught on video kneeling on the neck of a 12-year-old Black girl after responding to fight between two students. Now, the sixth grader's family say they're pursuing legal action and want to see the officer charged.
"She's humiliated. She's traumatized. Everyday I gotta hear, 'Daddy, I don't want to go to school,'" the girl's father, Jerrel Perez said during a press conference on Wednesday (March 16), ABC News reported.
"It breaks me because I wasn't there to help her," Perez said. "I felt helpless." Kenosha is the same city where a police officer shot Jacob Blake, Jr in the back seven times in August 2020 and later returned to work.
The video showing the incident involving the 12-year-old was taken at Lincoln Middle School on March 4 by students and has since gone viral.
Perez said he thought his daughter was just trying to avoid punishment for fighting and that she was complaining of neck pain. Hours later, he watched the clip.
"I want to see this officer get charged," Perez said. His daughter is now in therapy and seeing a medical professional about a neck injury.
Both the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha Unified School District have launched an investigation into the incident and have seen the clip.
The police department said while they're investigating and "are keenly aware of the significant sensitivity surrounding the photo," they are also "being cautious not to make conclusions based off of a small piece of information shared on social media."
The unnamed officer is a 37-year-old white male, ABC News confirmed, and has been on the Kenosha police force for four years. He is "currently on paid leave from the district," school officials said.
Impending Legal Action
Drew DeVinney, the family's lawyer, said during the conference that officials refused to release school security camera footage of the incident to the girls' parents.
DeVinney also disputed the reported claim that the girl pushed the officer before he pinned her to the ground, and added that she's been charged for disorderly conduct, an allegation the Kenosha Police Department declined to comment on.
The lawyer also brought up the fact that following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, Wisconsin outlawed chokehold maneuvers, which includes a range of neck restraints.
The family said they are looking to pursue legal against against the police and school in the near future.
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