A school police officer in San Antonio, Texas, has been suspended, with pay, and is facing an excessive force investigation after a video surfaced showing him body slamming a 12-year-old girl outside of a middle school.
Joshua Kehm, 27, was identified by the school district as being the officer in the video, the San Antonio Express-News reports.
The girl in the video is Janissa Valdez, a sixth grader, according to News 4 San Antonio. She was not seriously injured.
The girl was suspended for two days, her mother told KSAT-TV.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Incident Began as ‘Verbal Altercation’ Between 2 Girls Outside of School
The incident began as a “verbal altercation” between two girls at about 4 p.m. on March 29, outside of the middle school, the district said in a statement to ABC News.
You can watch video, recorded by the girl’s friend, above.
The girl’s mother, Gloria Valdez, told Ghost-0 that the officer said her daughter “tried” to kick him.
He also said he thought the girl was going to start a fight with another student, but Valdez says her daughter was just having a “peaceful conversation with a fellow peer,” before she was “attacked” by Kehm, Ghost-0 reports.
Janissa Valdez told News 4 San Antonio, “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.”
In an interview with KSAT-TV, Janissa said the girl she was talking to had said bad things about her.
“I was walking toward her, telling her, ‘Let’s go somewhere else,’ because there was a lot of people,” the girl told the news station. “Then that’s when other people came over and the officer thought we were going to fight, so that’s whenever he came and did that.”
2. The Girl Was Knocked Out Before She Was Handcuffed, Her Mother Says
In his description of the video, Ghost-0 says the girl was briefly knocked unconscious. The video shows the girl motionless on the ground after being slammed down, before Officer Kehm handcuffs her and pulls her up.
“She landed on her face!,” another student yells.
The girl’s classmates can be heard asking if she is OK.
According to the girl’s mother, the girl has suffered from severe headaches since the incident.
“You could just hear where she hits the ground. And it’s nothing but concrete, cement,” her mother Gloria Valdez, told News 4 San Antonio. “She wasn’t moving. She was just knocked out. I wanted answers and nobody could give me answers. I contacted the vice-principal. I talked to the officer. He did what he had to do at the moment – those were his words.”
Gloria Valdez told KSAT-TV, “You could actually hear her head hit the concrete. That’s what hurt me the most. And he didn’t even seem like it bothered him. And he still handcuffed her after she was unconscious.”
3. The District Says It Will Not ‘Tolerate Excessive Force’
Officer Joshua Kehm has been placed on paid administrative leave after the video was posted Tuesday night, the district says.
“This video is very concerning, and we are working to get all of the details,” Leslie Price, a district spokesperson, told the San Antonio Express-News. “We certainly want to understand what all occurred, and we are not going to tolerate excessive force in our district.”
Price told ABC News, “officers are trained for a variety of scenarios but we will not tolerate any excessive force.”
Kehm could not be reached for comment.
He is the latest officer to be accused of using excessive force while detaining a young girl. McKinney, Texas, police officer Eric Casebolt resigned in June after he was recorded while violently throwing a 15-year-old down at a pool party. The investigation into the incident has been completed, but the district attorney hasn’t announced if charges will be filed.
In October, Richland, South Carolina, deputy Ben Fields was fired after he flipped a girl out of her desk and dragged her across the ground in a classroom. He has also not been charged criminally.
4. Kehm Has Worked for the District Since February 2015 After Serving in the Air Force
Josh Kehm has worked in the San Antonio school district as a police officer since February 2015, according to his now-deleted Linkedin profile.
He previously served in the U.S. Air Force from 2007 to 2014, he said on Linkedin. He had been stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico and Eilson Air Force Base in Alaska.
During his time in the Air Force he worked as a patrolman, patrol sergeant, command and control operator, non-lethal weapons instructor and security forces trainer.
Kehm is married and has a young daughter. He is originally from Pennsylvania.
5. The Girl’s Father Says He Wants ‘Justice’ for His Daughter
The girl’s father, Raul Valdez, says the incident left a bump on his daughter’s head.
“It hurt me really bad that a grown man could do that to a little girl. I want to confront the officer, but thought it would be better to do everything legally,” Valdez told the San Antonio Current. “I want justice for my daughter. These police are getting out of hand. They think they are above the law.”
Janissa Valdez, his daughter, told News 4 San Antonio that Kehm’s actions were “wrong,” because she “wasn’t going to do anything.”
Her mother told the news station it’s up to the district whether Kehm loses his job.
“I just don’t want that done to another student or to my daughter again,” Gloria Valdez said.