BASTROP (KXAN) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and other organizations tried to hear from a central Texas community after a school resource officer used a Taser on a high school student last year.
About half an hour after the meeting was supposed to have started, the attendees were mostly members of the organizing groups.
“Kids are more concerned, from my opinion. They are more concerned about the Tasers in the school than the parents. So I don’t know. This place should be packed. We should have a line outside,” said parent Sumai Lokumbe. “[My son] has a different opinion from what I have as a parent. He feels that they need Tasers in the school because there is a lot of fights and kids are violent and sometimes there’s no other way to control them.”
The meeting comes after Bastrop County deputy used a stun gun on a student, Noe Niño de Rivera, at Cedar Creek High School in November following a fight at the school.
The student hit his head on the floor and ended up in a medically-induced coma, his family says. The family then filed a lawsuit against the deputy and the school district.
The ACLU is pushing to get Tasers and pepper spray out of schools. The organization asked Governor Rick Perry to take action and partnered with other groups to send a similar request to the Texas Education Agency.
“We encourage them who have voices both for and against to speak on the issue because having these conversations and having this discussion is the only way that change is going to occur,” said Jennifer Carreon with Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
The family’s attorney, Adam Loewy, says he supports the community meeting Thursday and says there appears to be a substantial movement in the community to stop a similar incident from happening.
The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office would not comment for this story Thursday, citing ongoing investigations.
The FBI said it would open up an investigation into the use of the stun gun on the student, Niño de Rivera. Texas Rangers also launched an investigation after the Taser incident.
Loewy says Niño de Rivera is now communicating. However, he continues to struggle with memory, emotional, and brain injury issues.
The state’s largest police association defended the use of the stun gun in January, saying the teen appeared coherent after the Tasing and even apologized to officers during the incident. However, the organization stressed Thursday that the issue of the use of Tasers is a complex issue that is not easily simplified, and members did not want to comment on the meeting.