Police review clears Keene school resource officer

Keene police officer Joshua English, shown in this Keene High School surveillance camera footage tackling a student, followed department policy, Police Chief Steven Russo said.

KEENE — A 15-year-old Keene High student faces fines and community service for vaping while the officer shown in a video tackling him at the school was determined to have followed police department policy.

Caught on video: Keene High School resource officer tackles teen

“Officer (Joshua) English’s response to this resistance was reviewed, including the review of KHS surveillance camera footage of the incident,” Police Chief Steven Russo said in a statement on Monday. “Officer English’s response was determined to be within KPD policy and procedure, and in compliance with the New Hampshire Use of Force Statute.”

The father of the 15-year-old said his son had been ticketed by the same officer for vaping on Oct. 7 and again on Oct. 31; the youth was left bruised and bloodied, his dad said.

“If he was vaping in there, he should be punished, but punishment isn’t slamming him into the wall and onto the ground,” said the father, who asked not to be named. “He was walking out of the bathroom.”

The father provided the Union Leader with copies of the two summonses issued to the boy, one on Oct. 7, and the other on Oct. 31, both for the prohibited use of a tobacco product. The violation is not criminal; the maximum penalty for each offense is a $100 fine and 20 hours of community service.

The teen is seen in the video posted to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat walking out of the bathroom before English tackled him from behind. The boy’s father said his son was in the bathroom with four of five other students and some of them were vaping. His son was the only one accosted by English, the father said.

Russo said last week that English did not know in the moment that the boy was a student at the high school, and acted to protect the school community. Russo reiterated that point in his Monday statement.

“The underlying offense is not as important as the fact that the individual’s actions were out of the ordinary under such circumstance: he refused to identify himself to Officer English, and he made several attempts to escape detention through physical resistance as he continued to move through the school,” Russo said.

The father said that explanation does not make sense, as English had given his son a ticket for vaping a few weeks prior to the Thursday incident.

“He knows that’s a student,” the father said. “I talked to him less than a month ago about my son.”

The father said that English never provided any proof that his son was in fact vaping on Thursday, and no vaping device was recovered.

“(English) said it may have been flushed down the urinal,” the father said. “How can you flush a vape pen down a urinal?”

According to the father, the boy received a three-day out-of-school suspension, to be followed by a two-day in-school suspension.

Russo called English a respected veteran officer who was doing his job to keep the school community safe.

“The Keene Police Department, and the Keene School District, are committed to maintaining the safety and the security of the students, faculty, administrators and staff of the city’s schools, which may regrettably include when necessary, the use of force to secure that safety,” Russo said in Monday’s statement.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019