A New Mexico police officer has quit the police force after he came under fire for pinning a sixth-grade girl to the ground inside her middle school.
Officer Zachary Christensen, who worked as a school resource officer at Mesa View Middle School in Farmington, was filmed on video from his lapel camera trying to detain the 11-year-old girl, whom he accused of assaulting two school employees as she tried to leave the school. However, the girl was cleared of all wrongdoing, according to The New York Daily News, which quotes Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe, saying the accusations “proved not to be true.”
Video from the incident that occurred on Aug. 27 was released to the media, showing Christensen ripping the girl’s backpack off before slamming her against a wall and then to the ground, as the girl cried: “I’m not resisting. Get off of me — you’re hurting me.”
While Christensen held the girl down, a school administrator can be heard talking off-camera to the officer and accusing him of using excessive force.
“Officer Christensen, you need to allow her to stand up, sir,” the administrator said, according to the Daily News. “Officer Christensen, she is not a threat to yourself or others at this moment. You need to allow her to stand up.”
“… you’re not going to use excessive force to get this done,” the administrator adds.
“We’re not being excessive,” Christensen responds.
The officer accused the girl of starting trouble by taking “more milks than she was supposed to” from the school cafeteria and throwing one “on the ground,” according to the Daily News.
The girl’s family has retained an attorney, who told KRQE that she suffered a concussion and pain to her arm and shoulder from Christensen.
“While it is appreciated that the principal and vice-principal asked the officer to stop, there is a question as to what the administrators could have done to prevent this from occurring at all,” attorney Mark Curnutt told KRQE.
Police Chief Hebbe said he personally apologized to the girl and her family for the officer’s actions.
“There’s no excuse for the way this girl was treated,” Hebbe said in a video statement Sunday. “As the chief of police, I am extremely disappointed that we failed to perform at our expected standards. We value our relationship with our community and will continue to work hard to maintain the public’s confidence in our department.”