Warren Durham is the now-former school resource officer who was fired by the Vance County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina after he was caught on video body-slamming an 11-year-old boy at Vance County Middle School. Durham, 52, was fired on Monday, December 16, 2019, three days after the school district brought the disturbing surveillance video to the sheriff’s office.
Vance County Sheriff Curtis Brame told WNCN-TV, “We went over and when we first saw the video, we were stunned, we were shocked. We all are parents and grandparents that have children at that same age, so it brought some great concern to us.”
On Tuesday, December 17, Vance County District Attorney Mike Waters announced at a press conference that Durham was being charged with assault on a child under 12, misdemeanor child abuse and willful failure to fulfill his duties with the sheriff’s office. The incident was investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation at Brame’s request.
Durham could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney who could speak on his behalf. Durham was booked and released on $10,000 bail. He faces up to 120 days in jail if convicted.
Here’s what you need to know about former deputy Warren Durham:
1. The Video Shows Warren Durham Picking the Boy Up & Slamming Him Down, Then Picking Him & Driving Him Back Into the Ground Before Dragging Him Off
The surveillance video of the December 12 incident involving ex-deputy Warren Durham and an 11-year-old boy at Vance County Middle School in Henderson, North Carolina. The video clip, which does not have sound, shows Durham and the boy walking down the hall of the school. Suddenly, Durham lunges out with one arm and grabs the boy around his chest, lifting him up into the air and slamming him down onto the ground.
The video then shows Durham standing over him and appearing to yell. In the video, Durham can be seen picking the boy back up with two hands and then driving him back down into the ground face first. Durham can then be seen dragging the boy by the sweatshirt outside of the view of the camera.
The district attorney and sheriff have not said what led up to the incident caught on video, but both said it would not matter, as there would be no reason for Durham to act the way he did.
The boy’s father told local news stations he was recovering at home. The student reported the incident to administrators who found the video and notified the sheriff’s office.
District Attorney Mike Waters said he met with the family of the victim after the SBI completed its investigation late Monday. “The student in the video was seen in the emergency room as a precaution and followed up with his primary care physician,” Waters said, and, “by the grace of God he does not have any serious injuries.”
Waters said Durham could not be charged with a felony under North Carolina law because the boy did not suffer any broken bones or other serious bodily injuries. Waters said the family is disappointed and frustrated by that. “Had the child been more seriously injured, felony charges would be appropriate,” Waters said.
2. Durham Worked as a Deputy & School Resource Officer in Vance County for 2 Years
Warren Durham worked as a deputy for the Vance County Sheriff’s Office for two years and was assigned to be a school resource officer at Vance Middle School during that period. He is listed on the school’s website as being part of an anti-bullying program at the school along with the other deputy assigned there.
The district attorney said as part of the case he would work to assure that Durham does not work as an officer again.
Vance County Superintendent Anthony Jackson called Durham’s actions “unacceptable and egregious” at a Monday press conference. He added, “We’re disappointed. As a community, we are embarrassed. And most of all, we want to express our apologies to this community that this occurred. … No student should experience this in any way.”
Jackson added in a statement, “I don’t expect my deputy or any deputy or law enforcement in North Carolina to carry out their duties in that way. The safety of our students has been and continues to be of the utmost importance to our district.”
The school district said it would be evaluating its school resource officer program.
“My commitment to this community is we will work tirelessly to ensure that this never happens again to another child in our school system,” Jackson said at the press conference.
3. Another Parent Says Durham Pushed Her Daughter Into a Locker & Dislocated Her Shoulder
Another Vance County Middle School parents says Warren Durham also used excessive force against her daughter. She says he pushed her up against a locker, dislocating her shoulder and causing other injuries. She shared a photo with WTVD-TV showing her daughter with her arm in a sling and a cut behind her ear. She said the incident happened just a few hours before the 11-year-old boy was slammed by Durham. Her daughter was taken to the hospital.
“She has a dislocated shoulder, on her left side. Everything where she was slammed against the locker – all of this is broke,” Roslyn Wynn told the news station. “This is like, dislocated. She has a sling on. She has a sprain in her neck.” She said her daughter has been waking up with nightmares.
Wynn said she reached out to the school district but hasn’t heard back. The district attorney said that a preliminary investigation has been launched by the sheriff’s office. He said the focus, for now, has been on the incident caught on video.
4. The Victim’s Grandfather Says the 11-Year-Old Boy Is Traumatized by What Happened & Keeps Saying ‘I Did Nothing to Deserve This’
John Miles, the 11-year-old boy’s grandfather and a local pastor, told WRAL-TV that his grandson “could have been killed.” He told the news station, “I don’t care what happened. My grandson should never have been attacked by a grown man that we trust in law enforcement. As a pastor, I have to forgive him. I have no choice. But I still want justice done. As a grandfather, I’m just hurt right now.”
Miles told WTVD-TV his grandson is “traumatized” by what happened.
“He’s just said to me for the last three days, ‘Granddaddy, I did nothing to deserve this. I didn’t do anything to deserve this kind of treatment,'” Miles told the news station.
5. Durham Is One of Multiple School Resource Officers to Be Charged or Fired This Year for Incidents of Violence Against Students
Warren Durham joins a list of multiple ex-school resource officers who lost their jobs and, in some cases, were arrested after incidents of violence against students caught on video.
In Orange County, Florida, a deputy, Harry Reid, was fired in November after video showed him yanking a middle school girl’s head during a fight. Sheriff John Mina said, “That deputy’s behavior and actions violated many policies, our standards, but more importantly, the visions and expectations I’ve set as sheriff and definitely will not be tolerated. “I want our deputy sheriffs to know that as well, and I hope this sends a strong message not only to our community but also to our deputy sheriffs.” Reid has not been charged.
Also in November and in Florida, Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Willard Miller was fired and arrested after a video showed him body-slamming a female student to the ground at a school for students with emotional and developmental disabilities.
In October, in Farmington, New Mexico, Zachary Christensen resigned from his job after video showed the now-former police officer slamming an 11-year-old girl to the ground while ignoring the pleas from school officials asking him to let her go.
In September, Orlando Police school resource officer Dennis Turner, who had a history of discipline for excessive force, was fired after he arrested two 6-year-old girls.
Irena Como, the acting legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement after the Vance County incident, “This type of heartbreaking incident is all too common as educators increasingly rely on law enforcement to handle routine disciplinary issues, especially with children of color and children with disabilities.”
Como added, “School Resource Officers are charged with protecting students, but they use physical force and escalate situations to the detriment of students. School Resource Officers should never handle disciplinary issues, which are more appropriately addressed by school counselors or mental health professionals, and the routine presence of police in schools should end.”