Officer takedown of student raises questions of excessive force

Incident caught on camera at Helix HS
Posted at 12:02 AM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 17:10:23-05

(KGTV) - The La Mesa Police Department is reviewing one of its officers and the force used in an incident at a high school.

Widely circulated video shows a school resource officer throwing a 17-year-year old female student to the ground last Friday at Helix Charter High School.

Students who saw the takedown say the video only shows the second time the student was forced to the ground by the officer.

Danika Zikas was in AP Bio Lab when the incident began outside the window.

“I look outside and I immediately see a cop taking a girl to the floor,” said Zikas, “she wasn't fighting back because he had her pinned." 

The sophomore says she started filming the incident on her smartphone in case it escalated.

“By the time the cop got her down the second time - actually the class - we were screaming, some girls were nearly banging on the windows,”  said Zikas, “and one of my friends asked the teacher if we could go out and stop and she said no we can't intervene with the cop."

RELATED: Officer takes down student on-camera

The student was serving an in school suspension and was asked to leave campus after an instructor found pepper spray in her backpack, which is when police were called.

Kevin Lachapelle is a former police officer and says an officer has a right to his safety, but there is little space for error when taking action.

“Something obviously happened for them to go from just walking to the officer to physically throwing someone down,” said Lachapelle, “if the public sees you exercising your authority like that, there's room for question.”