VIDEO: SRO Loses Job After Placing Student In Apparent Choke Hold
Camden, AR – A Camden Police Department (CDP) school resource officer is without a job after cell phone footage showed him subduing a student by holding him around the neck and lifting him off of the ground (video below).
In a statement, Camden Police Chief Boyd Woody said that the incident occurred at Camden Fairview High School sometime before 9 a.m. on Monday.
Chief Woody identified the officer involved in the altercation as CPD School Resource Officer Jake Perry.
Video footage showed Officer Perry as he held a juvenile male from behind with his arms wrapped around the teen’s neck.
He pressed the teen against a wall and raised the boy’s feet off of the ground momentarily as onlookers screamed at the officer in the background.
Officer Perry appeared to be speaking into the teen’s ear just before he set him back onto his feet, the video showed.
The officer kept one arm around the suspect’s head as he calmly led him away.
“I feared for my life,” Dekyrion Ellis later told KTVE. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I blacked out. I really didn’t see anything until he took me back to the office.”
Ellis said that the incident occurred after he and another student got into an argument.
“He [the student] hit me. I pushed him. Then he pushed me and I pushed him harder to where he fell on the ground,” he told KTVE. “That’s when the kids started grabbing me and him.”
Ellis said that Officer Perry yanked the other kids off of him then “started choking” him.
“He could’ve taken me to the office,” the teen declared. “He didn’t have to restrain me. It wasn’t like I was trying to get away from him. I wasn’t resisting arrest.”
The video did not show what transpired prior to Officer Perry raising the teen up off of the ground.
Ellis was taken to the hospital by his family, KTVE reported.
He suffered scratches to his arm and said he was in pain, but an x-ray of his neck showed no injuries.
Ellis’ mother, Alonna Parker, said that Officer Perry’s actions were inexcusable.
“My son couldn’t even breathe,” Parker told KTVE. “It was just really uncalled for.”
His grandmother, Delondra Ellis, said she believes Officer Perry enjoyed using physical force against the teen.
“It was totally unnecessary for him to use that excessive force on my grandson,” she declared. “The look he had on his face to me looked like he was proud of what he was doing.”
“He should have put his hands behind his back,” added Ellis’s grandfather, Mark Ellis. “That would’ve been the appropriate way to handle the situation.”
Chief Woody said he viewed the footage and that Officer Perry was “relieved of duty pending an investigation” on Monday.
“As the Police Chief, I will not tolerate misconduct from my officer and this matter will be dealt with accordingly and I will be transparent in doing so,” he noted at the time.
He said that Officer Perry had been working for the CPD for over two years, and that he is a lifelong member of the community, KTVE reported.
“I’ve never had an incident with him,” Chief Woody said. “He’s well received in the community. He’s lived here all of his life and never had an incident like this.”
Camden Fairview Superintendent Fred Lilly also released a statement shortly after the altercation.
Camden Fairview School District (CFSD) will fully cooperate with the CPD's investigation,” Lilly said, according to KHTV. “In order to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, CFSD will work with the CPD to ensure that current policies and procedures for all SROs stationed at CFSD schools are reviewed and revised if necessary. CFSD's first priority is, and will continue to be, to provide an excellent education to all of our students in a safe environment."
The internal investigation wrapped up on Thursday, the CPD said in a press release.
“After the findings of the investigation, it was determined that Jake Perry did violate department policy and he is no longer employed with the Camden Police Department,” the agency said.
The statement did not say whether Officer Perry had been fired or if he resigned.
The incident has also spurred a review of the CPD’s training, policies and assignments.
You can watch cell phone footage of the incident in the video below: