Police in Schools

Reno School Cop Shoots Teen Victim of Bullying in the Chest—District Praises Cop for 'Protecting Children'

Teen's attorney speaks out while school district praises cop for shooting.



A school police officer at Hug High School in Reno, Nev., shot a 14-year-old boy who had a knife on him as the boy was trying to escape a crowd that had formed to see an anticipated beat-down of the boy, the teen's family's lawyer, David Houston, told the AP. The attorney described the boy as emotionally distressed and said he had already been hit when he was trying to escape. He was shot in the chest by an officer who has not been identified but who has been placed on paid administrative leave.

"Those kids were alerted there was going to be a beat-down at a specific time and a specific location. They had amassed with their cellphones for the purpose of filming it," Houston said. "Half the student body is out there cheering them on. He'd been punched in the face and was running around screaming, 'Get away from me!' He was trying to extricate himself from a situation that had become like spectators in the Roman Colosseum."

"There was no attempt to calm the situation," the attorney also said. "There was not this genuine sense of panic or alarm by the students watching until the officer attempted to execute the 14-year-old who was screaming, 'Get away from me."

The school superintendent, Traci Davis, praised the cop, saying "the officer's judgment saved other students from deadly force." The lawyer for the school district, meanwhile, criticized the family's lawyer for speaking to reporters. "It is disappointing to think that such a tragic event can be sensationalized by one side and by the media in order to spread false truths, innuendos, and disparage the efforts of a law enforcement officer protecting children," said Neil Rombardo.

"Protecting children," in this instance, sounds like it meant putting a slug in the chest of a 14-year-old bullying victim. While the school district can be argued to be sensationalizing the case by crediting the judgment of an adult who shot a 14-year-old in the chest with protecting other children from "deadly force," neither has the school district provided any kind of alternate account to the event, nor disputed any specific claim by the teen's attorney as of yet. It should not be surprising the school district has stepped up to defend the cop so quickly—not only does he appear to have failed in protecting students, but for a school to get into such a situation in the first place seems to require years of poor school and district administration. Schools don't lose control of their student bodies overnight, it takes a serious amount of mismanagement.

Houston argued the teenager brought some kitchen knives to school in anticipation of being jumped by a group of seniors who had assaulted him the previous day. The lawyer also questioned why the officer, assigned specifically to the school, didn't try to resolve the situation in some way other than by the use of deadly force. "They could have said, 'It's OK, nobody is going to hurt you,'" the attorney said. "One of the primary rules of our society is we don't shoot our children. We simply don't shoot first and ask questions later."

The teenager is in the hospital in critical condition, and suffered a major stroke yesterday. No charges have been filed in the case. The boy's father hired an attorney in case the teen was going to be targeted by prosecutors. The district attorney's office says it is taking charges into consideration while the Reno police department investigates.

A number of students recorded the incident, some of whom posted it on YouTube. Here's one:

Via the Twitter feed of NC criminal defense attorney T. Greg Doucette