Henderson, NC – A school resource officer is facing charges and an assistant principal has been suspended in two separate but related incidents at Vance County Middle School (video below).
The Vance County Sheriff’s Office said they began investigating after they received a complaint on Dec. 12 from the school district “regarding the assault on an 11-year-old boy by a law enforcement officer,” The News & Observer reported.
School security cameras captured video footage of the incident and showed the school resource officer – later identified as Vance County Sheriff’s Deputy Warren Durham – in an altercation with a student.
The video showed Deputy Durham and the student walking down the hall next to each other and then all of a sudden, the deputy turned and pick the boy up and slammed him to the ground.
Then Deputy Durham picked the boy back up, turned him over, and threw him back on the ground, the video showed.
At that point, the surveillance video showed the deputy hoisted the kid back up to his feet, and then proceeded to drag him down the hallway by one arm.
Vance County Sheriff Curtis Brame viewed the video of the incident and announced that he had immediately fired Deputy Durham, The News & Observer reported.
"I was stunned and shocked because I have eight grandchildren, four between the ages of 8 and 13," Sheriff Brame said. "To see a child that small reminded me of one of my grandchildren."
He referred the investigation to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, The News & Observer reported.
Deputy Durham was arrested on Dec. 17 and charged with assault on a child under 12, misdemeanor child abuse, and failure to discharge duties, all of which are misdemeanors.
He was released on $10,000 bail.
Vance County District Attorney Mike Waters said the deputy is facing up 90 days in jail if his is convicted on all counts, The News & Observer reported.
Family and community members objected to what they considered light charges and demanded that the former school resource officer be charged with felonies for his alleged assault on the student.
However, the district attorney said that the student didn’t suffer the kind of severe injuries as defined by law that are required for felony charges, The News & Observer reported.
Sheriff Brame said that the deputy had been with the sheriff’s department for two years and had not had any previous problems.
“I am totally disappointed in the law itself,” John Miles, the boy’s grandfather and a local pastor, said. “I still stand today and forgive this man for hurting my grandson. I am not happy with the misdemeanor charges.”
Shortly after the video of the incident surfaced, another Vance County Middle School parents leveled accusations at Deputy Durham, The News & Observer reported.
Roslyn Wynn told investigators that her 12-year-old daughter had been injured by Deputy Durham on the same day as the other incident.
Wynn claimed she was talking on the phone to her daughter when Deputy Durham slammed her daughter up against a locker causing her shoulder to be dislocated, The News & Observer reported.
"I am hearing her screaming. I am hearing her hollering, saying, 'You're hurting me. Stop pulling my hair,’” the mother told WRAL.
But the sheriff’s department and the district attorney investigated those allegations too and determined they were false, The News & Observer reported.
“We have reviewed video for the time before, during and after the time period alleged. Based upon our review of this video, we can find no merit to allegations as provided to us, and further, we can find no interaction that rises to levels alleged,” the Vance County Sheriff’s Office told WTVD.
Surveillance video showed that in that incident, Deputy Durham had not laid a hand on the girl.
Instead, the video showed it was Vance County Middle School Assistant Principal Kevin Ross who slammed the student into a lock in that incident, The News & Observer reported.
"She was so traumatized at the time. It's possible she didn't know which ones was touching her," Wynn told WTVD after she saw the video. "That's why she said both of them. But when I seen it and I told her. She was that more hurt. That it was just the assistant principal."
The school district put out a press release that said Ross had been suspended while the incident was being investigated.
“We want to give assurance to everyone in our community that we are following all local and state policies and reviewing procedures and processes,” Vance County Schools said. “The safety and welfare of our students is always a top priority in Vance County Schools.”
You can see the incident in the video below. Warning - Disturbing content: