The grandmother of a middle schooler involved in a scuffle with a Brusly police officer last month — a confrontation caught by a school office camera — says the student suffered physical and psychological injuries in violation of his civil rights.
A videotape leaked to the media shows Officer Anthony "Kip" Dupre wrestling the Brusly Middle School student to the ground and then picking him up and slamming him to the floor during an Oct. 5 encounter. Attorney Kwame Asante told reporters Monday the child's family believes it has been deceived and that authorities weren't open about the officer's actions until the video came into public view.
Dupre claimed the student had reached for his service weapon and the video appears to show the officer handing his holstered gun to a school staffer to get it clear of the melee on the floor of the school's administrative office. Asante said the child "blacked out" during the struggle and can't remember exactly what happened.
The student received bruises and swelling around his nose and eyes and a cut on his chin that lost "a lot of blood," Asante said.
Doris Snearl, who has been raising her grandson for the past five years since his mom died of cancer, said the incident has exacerbated his existing psychological and behavioral issues that arose after the death of his mother. She said he has been hospitalized for mental health treatment since the incident because he's becoming agitated and having trouble sleeping.
State Police started investigating the incident after local authorities requested their help and the investigation remains ongoing. Asante said his recent conversations with State Police investigators led him to believe the student had done something to escalate the struggle.
"Then I saw the leaked tape and just was like, y'all lied to us!" Asante said. "We were angry. … We've seen the history of these type of incidents and what they have done to our community. That the impact and the trauma isn't just with the family — it destroys the fabric of trust."
Asante said the problems started the morning of the incident because his client was assigned to detention for cursing on the playground. The student had gotten into a disagreement with an administrator over how long he had to sit in detention with no breaks. When the administrator told him to go back to detention for a second day in a row, the student said he was going to the office to call his grandmother instead.
He then went to leave the office, which is when the struggle began.
The video, which was first shown on WAFB-TV earlier this month, reveals parts of the struggle. But a desk blocked some of what happened from being recorded on the school surveillance camera. At one point Dupre can be seen rapidly thrusting his right shoulder and arm up and down apparently toward the youth as if punching him, while the much larger man had the teen pinned to the ground.
Brusly Police Chief Jonathan Lefeaux saw the videotape and requested a State Police investigation into the conduct of the officers involved. Asante also called for a complete investigation and said the family is considering a lawsuit, possibly against both the school system and the police department.
Lefeaux said many of Asante's "concerns mirrored my concerns when I saw the video," which he said reveals "a very unfortunate incident" — one that could involve the use of excessive force — that has unsurprisingly caused a stir among Brusly residents.
Dupre and a second officer, Dan Cipirano — who arrived near the end of the struggle and helped handcuff the student — were placed on paid leave last month. But both have since resigned at Lefeaux's request. Neither officer had his body camera on during the scuffle.
The police chief noted that Dupre had received the appropriate training to become a school resource officer — a move he had made in recent months. Lefeaux also said he's hoping State Police will conclude their investigation soon. State Police spokesman Senior Trooper Bryan Lee said it remains ongoing.
"We're trying to do the right thing, but it's taking so long that people think we're trying to cover it up," Lefeaux said. "And that's killing me."
Officials with the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office have said the office plans to bring the incident before a West Baton Rouge Parish grand jury regardless of what the State Police probe finds.
Lefeaux has said he was familiar with prior incidents related to the teen that happened outside the school. Snearl said Monday she has called the police on her grandson a couple times because of behavioral problems.
The child has been placed in alternative school for the rest of the year because of the incident. But his grandmother and attorney want him to return to his school, saying he isn't receiving the support he needs to learn, especially now. They denied that the student had been involved in prior violent or threatening encounters with the school resource officer before the incident.
Snearl said her grandson couldn't explain to her what happened after the fact, telling her only that he had "blacked out."
"He was quiet. He didn't say anything really," she said. "He just was quiet and I hugged him."
Video footage of a police officer wrestling with a 14-year-old Brusly Middle School student last month has leaked in the midst of a Louisiana …
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