A police officer assigned to a North Carolina middle school has reportedly been fired after being caught on surveillance video repeatedly slamming an 11-year-old to the ground.
In the disturbing footage, the school resource officer and a small boy can be seen walking down the hallway at Vance County Middle School in Henderson when the officer picks him up and throws him to the ground. The officer then lifts the boy up and slams him down again before pulling him back up and continuing down the hallway.
The officer, who has not been publicly named, was initially placed on paid leave before being fired on Monday, WRAL and CBS 17 reported. A spokesperson for the Vance County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an interview with WRAL, the boy's grandfather, John Miles, said he hopes the officer faces criminal charges, saying his grandson "could have been killed."
"I don't care what happened," Miles said. "My grandson should never have been attacked by a grown man that we trust in law enforcement."
He added, "As a pastor, I have to forgive him. I have no choice. But I still want justice done. As a grandfather, I'm just hurt right now."
School officials called the officer's actions "unacceptable and egregious" in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News on Monday.
"No student should ever experience this anywhere, especially not in our schools. We are better than this. This child deserved better than this," the statement from superintendent Anthony Jackson said. "No child deserves to be treated in this manner. To this family and our community, we are truly sorry."
In addition to apologizing to the community, Jackson said the district on Monday modified its agreement with the Vance County Sheriff's Office so school leaders could review the protocols and procedures used by school resource officers.
"My commitment to this community is we will work tirelessly to ensure that this never happens again to another child in our school system," Jackson said.
Vance County Sheriff Curtis Brame told NBC that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the incident at his request.
"I was stunned. I was shocked. To see a child that small reminded me of one of my grandchildren," Brame said of the video.
Brame told WRAL the boy's mother reported he had a bump on his head, but he was not taken to a hospital.
The officer has been with the department for two years and had not previously been involved in any concerning incidents, Brame said.
Prosecutors are reviewing the case and have not yet made a determination on whether the officer will face charges.
"This is a use-of-force case, and the sheriff appropriately has called in an outside agency to investigate," Vance County District Attorney Mike Waters told NBC. "I’ve been able to assure the family that this is being conducted appropriately."
The video has horrified many people, adding to the debate over whether police officers belong in schools at all. In one recent case, a school resource officer arrested and handcuffed a 6-year-old who threw a tantrum. The ACLU has also reported that students of color are arrested at much higher rates than their white classmates are.
In response to the Vance County Middle School video, Julián Castro, a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted that the officer "should not be on paid leave," as he was prior to his firing — "he should be under arrest."
"Police have no place laying a hand on a non-violent student," Castro said. "My policing plan would remove them from the school discipline process."
Tay Anderson, director of the Denver School Board, tweeted that he would be "pushing forward to remove cops in schools and replace them with more mental health resources."
March for Our Lives cofounder David Hogg also pointed out the particular threat for students of color.
"Putting cops in schools is a threat to school safety that endangers the lives of millions of black, brown and indigenous children," he tweeted.