The mother of a Burnsville High School student says that police used excessive force by using a stun gun to subdue her son Thursday after he was involved in a confrontation with another student.
Ive Santiago posted cellphone video of the incident on Facebook that shows an officer using the Taser to stun the 14-year-old boy in the chest as he was taken to the ground and handcuffed in a courtyard outside the school. The video had gone viral by Friday afternoon.
“They never told him to get on the ground or that you’re under arrest,” Santiago said in an interview Friday. His first direction was, “ ‘Get down and I’m going to tase you.’ He was not running or threatening police. He had no weapon.”
The boy, whom she asked not be identified, was taken to a hospital for observation and released 10 hours later. It never should have gotten that far, his mother said.
It started around 12:45 p.m. when the boy encountered another student with whom he’d had a running dispute. The confrontation escalated and moved outside the school. That’s when a school resource officer intervened, said Sgt. Matt Smith of the Burnsville Police Department.
That officer followed the boy for “quite a while” and reported that he had made physical threats to other students. When the boy became combative, the officer called for backup and tried to calm him. The boy started pushing the officer away and at one point knocked off the officer’s body camera, Smith said. A second officer arrived and fired the Taser.
“He did everything he could to de-escalate the situation,” Smith said of the resource officer. “What you see [in the video] is not the entire story. The officer showed patience with the student. Police used as minimal force as necessary.”
Body camera footage will be used to determine whether the officers took proper action, Smith said.
Santiago questions why school officials didn’t follow the individual education plan (IEP) for her son, who has mental and behavioral issues. She said teachers whom he trusts were not called and that the school failed to do its part.
“They could have prevented it right away,” Santiago said. “They did not follow his IEP. Why did they not use de-escalation techniques? They are not doing it right.”
Santiago said her son has fared well academically, earning As and Bs, and plays hockey and football at the school. But Santiago says he feels unsafe there and she is thinking about moving him to a different school after next week’s spring break.
The school district did not release any details of the incident or the students involved.
“The incident was contained and the general student body was not in danger,” the district said in a statement released Friday.