Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
A deputy sheriff’s body-camera footage posted to Facebook shows an armed school resource officer threatening to shoot a student during a dispute outside a high school in Florida.
The video was posted by the student’s mother last month. It shows the student attempting to leave the campus of River Ridge High School in New Port Richey in a pickup truck as the officer and another person, identified by the Tampa Bay Times on Friday as school disciplinary assistant Carol Bond, argue that he’s committing truancy.
“If you’re not holding me, then get the hell out of my way,” the student says, to which Bond shoots back, “You’re truant.”
The student then attempts to maneuver the pickup truck around the SRO’s vehicle. “You’re gonna get shot if you come another fucking foot closer to me,” the SRO says. “You run into me, you’ll get fucking shot... This is my campus, brother.”
Later in the video, Bond, a white woman, says that the student called her the n-word (using the full word), to which the student replies: “I didn’t say that. You’re being hella racist by saying that.”
"We felt that the situation could have been handled better,” Steve Hegarty, a spokesperson for Pasco Schools and former Tampa Police spokesman, told VICE News on Monday, adding that there was “more that happened” which wasn’t shown in the body camera footage. “The employee has been counseled on how it could have been handled better.”
Pasco County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Amanda Hunter said that the office is conducting an internal investigation, which could be concluded by the end of the week. The officer is still working at the school, since no criminal complaint has been filed, the Times reported on Friday.
Nedra Miller, the student’s mother, told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday that she had told the school weeks in advance that her son had an orthodontist appointment, but he was briefly on campus that morning to drop a friend off. Following the incident, her son was suspended and then later expelled from the school, the Times reported. Miller is reportedly appealing the decision.
“I just feel like if they were all acting like children and my son received that level of discipline. They should, too," Miller told the Times. “They should both be removed from their jobs.”
“All three were acting like children, and all three are wrong," Miller told the Times. “But the cop more so. He’s just flat-out not OK to be around children. I was shocked that an officer of the law working with children would speak to my son that way.”
Following the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the state later passed a law allowing non-full-time teachers to carry guns, and then later expanded the law to allow teachers to carry guns. Less than a year after Parkland, over 200 school districts across the country had moved to allow teachers to carry guns, a VICE News investigation found last year.
Although the SRO is a sheriff’s deputy and would have been allowed to carry a weapon in the school prior to the state allowing school employees to carry guns, the incident is a stark reminder of the risks associated with guns on school campuses. In December, a school resource officer posted at a middle school in New Mexico was charged with a misdemeanor after accidentally firing his weapon inside of the school.
Cover: Facebook/Nedra J Miller