Video Showing Florida Officer Slamming Student to Ground Prompts Investigation

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
April 26, 2018US News
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Video Showing Florida Officer Slamming Student to Ground Prompts Investigation
(Screenshot/Natalie Cruz via Storyful)

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Video footage showing a male school resource officer in Florida slamming an unruly female high school student to the ground has gone viral, prompting officials to announce an investigation into the situation.

The officer was later identified as Cpl. Richard Stackon of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

The situation took place at Sunlake High School.

School resource officers are embedded in schools as security staff but are trained police officers.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco released footage of the incident from Stackon’s body camera, saying his officer “did what he had to do” to handle the situation, reported Fox 13.

Nocco said that Stackon was called to the school’s cafeteria to investigate reports that a student who was skipping class was being disruptive there. The student had been asked to leave multiple times by staffers but had refused, Nocco said.

Austin Garry, a sophomore student who said he was in the cafeteria at the time, told Bay News 9 that the student had been walking up and down the room and yelling.

Near the beginning of the eight-minute video from the body camera, Stackon approaches the student and asks her what was going on.

The student said that she was just sitting down. “I am just sitting here,” she said.

Stackon asked the girl to step outside to speak privately with him several times but she refused.

“Now you are testing me. Come on outside and talk to me and I won’t have to lay a hand on you,” he is heard saying. “You are now disrupting everything that is going on.”

The girl eventually gets up but soon sits back down.

Stackon then grabbed her by her arms and slammed her to the ground, handcuffing her.

“Don’t [expletive] give me your [expletive],” he tells her. “The [expletive] is going on with you guys? Is this what I have to do every [expletive] day now?”

An adult who is not seen on camera is heard telling the officer that the student should be tested for drugs because of her strange behavior.

Garry, the student who witnessed the scene, told Bay News 9 that it looked like the student was moving towards the officer to hit him.

“Sometimes officers need to do what they need to do,” Matthew Garry, Garry’s father, said. However, he added, “I think it was a little aggressive. She went down hard, and nobody wants to see a kid ever get hurt.”

But  junior Natalie Cruz, who recorded one of the cell phone videos, said that “It looked like she was trying to resist him from grabbing her.”

Sheriff’s deputies traveled to the student’s house to speak with her as part of the investigation but the family declined to talk.

The student faces charges of campus disruption, obstruction of justice, and resisting arrest. Her age has not been released although she was identified by WFLA as Mackenzie Hanna. Hanna’s mother said the family is considering a lawsuit and that her daughter suffered a concussion and bruising from the rough handling.

“If teenagers and children in schools believe they have more authority than teachers, the principal, administrators and the school resource officers, we’re in a lot more trouble than we think we are,” he said. “He did what he had to do to defuse the situation.”

The office noted that Stackon has been with the office for 24 years and has no notable incidents on his file.

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