GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — One day after a cell phone video hit YouTube — prompting complaints — the Georgetown Police Department has placed an officer on paid administrative leave.
The video was taken shortly after the Vandegrift Vipers girls soccer team won the state title at Georgetown’s Birkelbach Stadium. It shows Officer George Bermudez calmly walking as students jump down from the bleachers to celebrate before he suddenly starts grabbing, pushing and tripping students.
“I just kept going and did not think about if he was going to hurt me,” said Audrey Ziari, a Vandegrift junior who narrowly avoided Bermudez’s outstretched leg. “I just kind of lifted up my foot because I felt him coming towards me.”
The first student Bermudez trips can be seen falling hard to the ground before getting up and limping his way back towards the bleachers.
Ziari said several students planned to storm the field if the Vipers were victorious because it is something they have done at athletic events previously.
“We have done it at home basketball games,” she said, but did acknowledge some students discouraged doing so after hearing a warning on the stadium public address to stay off the field. She and other students did not hear the announcement.
“It was mixed whether we can do it or we cannot do it, so everyone was like, ‘Oh, whatever. We are going to do it.’”
Georgetown Police Chief Wayne Nero released a statement on Monday afternoon.
“As would be appropriate given the circumstances, I have fielded a number of phone calls and emails regarding the recent actions of Officer Bermudez as depicted in the circulating videos. After personally watching the videos, the actions of my officer are very concerning to me as well.”
Nero went on to say an Internal Affairs investigation would determine the appropriate discipline for Bermudez, who is a nine-year veteran of the department and won Officer of the Year in 2013. He was one of two officers on duty at Saturday’s game.
The University Interscholastic League said there is no written policy concerning fans rushing the field, but announcements are often made for fans to stay in the stands in order to keep them, the players, coaches and referees safe.
Leander Independent School District said they are reviewing the facts of the incident before deciding if any action is needed on the part of Vandegrift High School or the district.