Father of Chicago teenager said school resource officers were too aggressive in using stun gun and punching his daughter after incident
The father of a Chicago teenager is accusing police of being too violent with his daughter after officers repeatedly used a stun gun and punched the 16-year-old while trying to remove her from Marshall High School.
Video of the incident show Chicago police officers, who are assigned to Marshall High School, using a stun gun on Dnigma Howard — who responded by grabbing the gun — and swinging at the girl with a closed fist after they tried to remove her following an altercation, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Dnigma, who was charged with two felony counts of aggravated battery against police, was suspended Tuesday morning, but allegedly refused to leave the school.
“My first instinct was to protect her,” Laurentio Howard, who witnessed most of the confrontation between his daughter and police, told the Sun-Times. “But they told me to step back, so I could only watch. I told them they didn’t need to do that. I think it really just shows that officers like that shouldn’t be in a school.”
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) issued a statement in response to the incident, saying the officers involved will not return to the school.
“CPS strives to create safe and supportive learning environments for all students, and this disturbing incident has absolutely no place in our schools,” district spokesman Michael Passman said, according to the Sun-Times. “To ensure a thorough review of this situation is conducted, we are asking the district’s Office of the Inspector General to review the matter and we will fully support the ongoing investigation by the City’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability.”
This incident is a reminder of longstanding issues between Chicago police and CPS. Last year, a report from the Inspector General’s office found problems with the way police officers are used in CPS schools, faulting both entities for failing to keep records of where the officers were deployed and finding that officers lacked the training to deal with conflicts with students.
Chicago police said they would make adjustments, including working with CPS to define the responsibilities of school resource officers as part of a wide-ranging consent decree filed in federal court that stemmed from a 2017 lawsuit, the Sun-Times reported. The consent decree, which was protested by the Chicago police union, was approved Thursday by U.S. District Judge Robert Dow.
After this latest incident, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Sun-Times that police “take these complaints very seriously.
“If the family feels they need to, they can file a complaint” with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates alleged misconduct, Guglielmi said.
Police said when they sought to remove Dnigma Howard from school, she kicked, bit and spit at them, causing three officers to fall down a flight of stairs. The officers were taken to University of Illinois Medical Center for injuries and Dnigma was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and released.
The teen appeared for an initial hearing Friday in Cook County Juvenile Court, where Judge Linda Pauel ordered her placed on electronic monitoring and banned her from the school’s grounds.
Dnigma denies the officer’s version of events. In an interview with the Sun-Times, she said she grabbed an officer’s vest, only after she was pushed first and that both of them fell. She said a female police officer punched her several times, causing a cut to her face. She said she bit the officer’s hand in retaliation, after which she said she was struck with the stun gun.