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A School Resource Officer Used a Taser on a Teen, Then Charged Him with Resisting Arrest

"He remembers falling to the ground, his muscles betraying his mind's desire to stand. Then he remembers nothing."

TaserMartin Brayley / Wikimedia CommonsMore cops in schools means more chances for young people to have ugly encounters with police officers. Consider what happened to Jalijah Jones, who was a freshman at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan when a school resource officer used a taser on him.

"He remembers a feeling of intense cold as if his high school hallway had just turned into a walk-in freezer," writes The Huffington Post's Rebecca Klein in an article on the incident. "He remembers falling to the ground, his muscles betraying his mind's desire to stand. Then he remembers nothing."

According to Klein, Jones wasn't a troubled kid. He'd never been in a fight until December 2017, when a classmate to whom he owed a small amount of money came to collect it:

Angry words were thrown back and forth, then a push and a shove and some swinging. But no one had been hurt until a school police officer Tasered the teen.

Jones, who says he blacked out after falling to the ground from the shock of the stun, remembers being cuffed a few seconds later, and the school cops dragging him through the hallways and out of school. His body shook furiously as he was loaded into a police car, before being escorted to the hospital in an ambulance. He was charged with resisting arrest―a charge that he is still fighting many months after the December 2017 incident.

Teens who get into fights need to be taught that it's inappropriate for adults to solve their differences in this manner, and schools should discipline them appropriately, with the aim of fostering more civilized behavior. But it's dangerous to use a taser to break up a shoving match, and it's absurd—and possibly life-derailing—to charge a kid with "resisting arrest" for failing to obey a school resource officer swiftly enough.

This terrible outcome would have been avoided if Kalamazoo hadn't delegated disciplinary responsibilities to a police officer. There is a cost to letting cops handle minor infractions of school rules: more handcuffs, more tasers, and more arrests. Is this really better for students? Is it any safer?

Klein writes:

The police officer who stunned Jones is one of over 80,000 currently stationed in public schools around the country, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Education, covering the 2015-16 school year. In 1997, only 10 percent of public schools had police officers, but in 2016, 42 percent did.

The number has risen sharply in the past few years and will continue to grow. Amid the recent spate of deadly school shootings, there has been an increase in federal money funding school police officer positions. This is true at the state level as well: New legislation in places like Florida has devoted millions of dollars to install more armed police officers in hallways. More armed guards lined the hallways as kids returned to school this year.

There is understandable logic to having more police in schools. After all, they have been credited with stopping several school shootings in recent months. But civil rights activists say there's another negative side to this police presence, once which puts students like Jones—young and impulsive, acting on frivolous teenage passions—in danger of police brutality and criminal charges.

The Huffington Post has attempted to track the number of tasing and pepper spray incidents in schools. The numbers—120 taser incidents since 2011, and 32 pepper spray incidents since 2016—may seem small, but they only include incidents that made the news. These kinds of things are probably much more common than they seem—and likely to become even more common, as safety paranoia continues to push the authorities to make school more prison-like.

Bonus link: Former Reason Foundation analyst Tyler Koteskey and I wrote about the rise of SROs for the March 2017 issue of Reason. Read that story here.

Photo Credit: Martin Brayley / Wikimedia Commons

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  • MatthewSlyfield||


    This terrible outcome would have been avoided if Kalamazoo hadn't delegated disciplinary responsibilities to a police officer. There is a cost to letting cops handle minor infractions of school rules: more handcuffs, more tasers, and more arrests.

    There is a potential silver lining to this dark cloud. Perhaps, if this continues, subsequent generations will break free of our current hero worship of cops that protects them from any consequences for misconduct.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Make you wonder why they are called resource officers. Opposed to something like discipline officers, since that's how they are being used.

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    Them should be called "Tools" because that is what Them are and what Them do. No skills are utilized, only tools like hand cuffs, tazer and gun.

  • Ben of Houston||

    Back when she was a teacher, my barely-5 foot tall grandmother routinely stopped fights between farmboys who could eat most of the punks these days for breakfast. She did it without resorting to physically restraining the boys, much less using weaponry. Just a sharp word and standing between them and they walked meekly to the principal's office.

    The other teachers in my family might not be quite so legendary, but each of them have broken up fights ranging from elementary to high school, and none of these diminutive women were ever injured or even felt the need to defend themselves.

    Why does the big burly policeman with a full arsenal on his belt feel the need to come out with weaponry?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Same with the teachers when I was in school. The problem is that nowadays there's a chance that the teacher would be turned on, and fired if they fought back.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Seems like an epidemic of turned on teachers...

  • operagost||

    Since when has a teacher been fired for anything short of having sex with a student?

  • Bob2||

    And how many SRO's have been disciplined or reassigned for having sex with students?
    'Sorry, we don't track those statistics' as it's, uh, a matter of, uh, privacy. We have to enforce the 'privacy law'.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Well the resource officer got home safe and isn't that really the most important thing?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Yeah... A) many of those kids in school today are MS-13-esque animals with no respect for elders
    B) in my day the female teachers yelled for a male teacher when a fight got out of hand; today there are so few male teachers, and fewer who are capable of restraining one or two kids effectively
    C) any teacher who attempts to break up a fight risks a lawsuit or ending their career if they lay a hand on a student. It's a no win scenario.
    Best option is encouraging home schooling.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Why does the big burly policeman with a full arsenal on his belt feel the need to come out with weaponry?"

    Because the weaponry are the only tools he has. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  • Ben of Houston||

    At the risk of mixing metaphors, I think you hit the nail on the head.

  • Don't look at me.||

    This terrible outcome would have been even worse had the officer used his gun as he originally intended.

  • rocks||

    If a "resource" officer tasered one of my kids, they wouldn't be around after a few months....

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Don't want to be charged with resisting arrest like a thug,
    don't flop around like a fish while being cuffed after being tased like a thug.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Your muscle-twitching ways were HIGHLY disrespectful of Mah Authoritah....

  • Pathogen||

    This student's pathetic attempt at "suicide by cop" was thwarted by the metered response of this cool headed hero in blue. I imagine that "kid" was hopped up on those bath salts.. Fortunately, he's in the system now, and probably getting the help he needs. Of course, more funding is needed if our police are forced to defend themselves from these animals with only a tazer.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Here, kids. Have some more government.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "A School Resource Officer Used a Taser on a Teen, Then Charged Him with Resisting Arrest"

    Sounds more like the officer charged him with resisting electricity. Ohmmmmm....

    Joint the Resistance

  • NashTiger||

    Shocking

  • Uncle Jay||

    "He remembers falling to the ground, his muscles betraying his mind's desire to stand. Then he remembers nothing."

    Sounds like what I went through in my math class.

  • majil||

    Cheer when cops are shot in the face .And, home school your kids

  • Wise Old Fool||

    Yeah when you can teach AP chemistry, physics, literature, and computer science to my kid please come and do so. This ain't the fucking prairie any more, Texas Pete. kids have to learn advanced stuff at a younger age to compete in college.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Rebecca Klein in an article on the incident. "He remembers falling to the ground, his muscles betraying his mind's desire to stand. Then he remembers nothing."

    I bet the student said absolutely nothing like this. Fake news, or writer's embellishment?

  • Ben of Houston||

    Does it really matter? Let them flex their poetic muscles where it doesn't really matter.

  • target||

    "The numbers—120 taser incidents since 2011, and 32 pepper spray incidents since 2016—"

    I would like to know the number of children who have been handcuffed in school; include both actions that could include criminal behavior(assault/suspected theft), and those that are only policy violations (disrespect/classroom disruption).

    I think this would be a better gauge for how school officers are impacting the children.

  • barfman2018||

    Remember, the Taser was invented as an alternative to lethal force. Imagine that every time a hero cop uses his Taser, he would have otherwise used his gun. This is the world we live in.

  • Agammamon||

    Teens who get into fights need to be taught that it's inappropriate for adults to solve their differences in this manner, and schools should discipline them appropriately,

    C'mon Robbie, bitch owed him money. There are times when its perfectly appropriate for adults to throw down. On a large scale they've even got their own name for it - war.

  • Wise Old Fool||

    Seems like overkill. It's helicopter parenting that has gotten us to this point. People think that only governmental authority can fix their problems. On the bright side they probably made an impression on the kid on how overreaching authority can really fuck up his life and maybe he'll turn libertarian. I would prefer to see a video though and see if the kid lunged at the cop or not.

  • MasterThief||

    I think we're missing some details here. It's possible that the officer rushed in and without warning tased a kid who was just getting a little rough. If this is how it went down, then he needs to be relieved of his position. The problem is that I have zero faith in huffpo to relate details honestly and they happen to be the source used for this article.
    I have a feeling the taser or resisting arrest were overkill reactions, but it's hard to be convinced when the words and actions of both the officer and kid aren't being detailed. Show me the relevant information rather than telling me how to think and feel about it

  • Hank Phillips||

    Gosh, how shocking! I trust no First Responders™ were hurt or killed?

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