Hazelton, PA – The police chief is defending officers caught on video holding a female student face-down on a cafeteria table on Monday (video below).
Hazelton Area School District Police Chief Ed Harry told WBRE that a high school fight was “spiraling out of control” on Feb. 11 when officers intervened.
A mob of students was cheering on two girls involved in a fight, Chief Harry said.
The video began as officers were attempting to get one of the students under control.
Two security officers were attempting to restrain a 15-year-old girl while a Hazelton Area School District police officer hit her in the leg.
The police officer continued to try to subdue the student, pushing her face down onto the cafeteria table and holding her down by her hair, the video showed.
The video also showed another female student being led away, according to WBRE.
Other students can be seen and heard screaming at and physically pushing the police officers during the 55-second video clip.
Parents responded with outrage after they saw the video clip that was posted to social media by the student who filmed it, but the police chief Aand the school superintendent were quick to put the kibosh on their complaints.
“They only saw just a very small portion of what went on and they didn’t see anything about what led up to it,” Chief Harry told WBRE. “At that point, the officers had to get that under control immediately you could see from that snippet of video there were hundreds of kids in that cafeteria. They were are all cheering her on… yelling and screaming, and they needed to de-escalate that.”
Hazleton Area School District Superintendent Brian Uplinger said parents should get both sides of the story before reacting to the video clip.
"It’s important to know there are always two sides to every story and it's really important for parents and students and community members to get both sides of those stories before going to social media,” Uplinger told WBRE.
Police said as least four students are facing criminal charges and expulsion as a result of the melee.
You can see video from the incident below: