ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The Austin branch of the NAACP is now weighing on an incident at Round High School that went viral after an officer was caught on camera putting his hands around a students throat. The parent of the student involved says he plans on pressing charges against the Round Rock police officer for allegedly using excessive force on his son.
“The police officer that was actually in this particular situation, he should have been trained well enough to know that this is a 130 pound child and that the action that was taken was totally unnecessary,” said Kashka Hughes, the father of the teen involved in Thursday’s incident.
The Round Rock Police Department says on Thursday afternoon there was a disagreement between two male students. In a press release, RRPD says the Round Rock Police School Resource Officers (SROs) were requested by administrators to assist with a fight in the cafeteria because they were unable to “de-escalate the fight and needed police assistance.” Administrators told police one of the student’s involved refused to comply.
In a video that started circulating on Thursday evening, two School Resource Officers can be seen talking to 14-year-old Gyasi Hughes. Less than a minute into the video, one of the officers can be seen grabbing the student by the neck and taking him down to the floor.
Police say the SROs tried to calm the student down but he still wanted to continue the altercation with the other student. “After repeated attempts to calm the non-compliant student, and stop him from going after the other student, officers were forced to detain him for his safety and the safety of others,” continued RRPD in the statement.
“I believe if he directly contacted the officer in terms of like maybe grabbing him, something like that would be understood, at this moment he was emotional,” said Hughes in regards to his sons emotions after the fight. “He was not being violent towards the officer, he wasn’t hitting him, he didn’t have a weapon, he was just emotional, which is mostly understood after being in a conflict just as he was.”
The family says the altercation between the two students reportedly began over sports goggles.
“I asked my friend to hold my goggles and during football I asked for them back and he told me repeatedly that he didn’t have them and he already gave them back to me,” said Gyasi, a corner back for Round Rock High School.
The teen said he asked the student for his goggles again at lunch and when he told him he didn’t have it, Gyasi got upset and started checking the other student’s backpack.
“That’s when he (the other student) started pushing me, pushing me and was like ‘get away from me,’ and finally I pushed him back and I shoved him to the ground,” said Gyasi.
He said an assistant principal broke up the fight, and took him aside. He said that’s when a teacher called the SRO to come over. The teen said the officer told him to walk away.
“As I was walking away the officer was pushing me in the back and I was like, ‘why are you pushing me? I’m not doing anything, I’m walking away like you told me to,” said Gyasi. “Finally we get like in this little corner and he’s (the SRO) sitting there yelling at me saying, ‘You shouldn’t be rude to the lady (assistant principal), don’t talk to her like that,’ I was like, ‘what are you talking about, I’m not doing anything.”
“Finally I asked him (the officer) to leave me alone and that’s the point when he grabbed me and took me down and tried to detain me,” said Gyasi. “I was just very upset, I was amped up over the fight and wasn’t really thinking.”
No arrests were made after the altercation. Gyasi said he was suspended until next Tuesday and received two Saturday detentions. The incident is currently under review by RRPD.
The Austin branch of the NAACP will hold a noon press conference at Round Rock High School, calling on the police department saying the level of force used by the officer was dangerous, reckless and could have injured the student and the officer. They also argue the officer should have been placed on immediate administrative leave once an investigation was announced.
In a statement on Friday, Round Rock Independent School District says, “Our Round Rock High School administrative team is working with RRPD regarding an incident involving two students Thursday afternoon to make sure proper procedures were followed. We look forward to the continued partnership between our public safety officials in evaluating this incident and in our continued support of safe and secure schools.” Full video:
“I apologized to the officer,” said Gyasi. He said he was able to calm down when the officers took him to the detention center at school. “I said I was sorry for yelling at you.”
Hughes said this was his son’s first fight and had a discussion with his son about how handle stressful situations.
“We both said there are different ways you could handle this in the future, I’m sure he’ll understand how to talk to a teacher for something so simple as some goggles,” said Hughes. “For it to turn into someone like getting grabbed by the throat and slung to the floor is very unfortunate.”
Hughes said he wants the officer to be retrained and receive disciplinary action for using excessive force on his son.
“I believe that the officer in question should defiantly go through some re-training or be reassessed in terms of how you handle conflicts like this,” said Hughes.
“All of my family are teachers, my mother is a teacher, my father is a principal and was a superintendent for a long time before he retired,” said Hughes. “I’ve definitely seen how the guards in the schools as well as how my dad handled various situations when kids were in certain altercations.”