An Arkansas police officer who was caught on camera putting a student in a chokehold has been fired, KTVE reports.
On Feb. 13, Camden Police Chief Boyd M. Woody announced that Officer Jake Perry was relieved of his duties following an investigation into the latter’s actions at Camden Fairview High School.
“After the findings of the investigation, it was determined that Jake Perry did violate department policy and he is no longer employed with the Camden Police Department,” Woody wrote in a statement. “The incident that occurred at the Camden Fairview High School has initiated a review into the Camden Police Department’s training, policies and assignments.”
On Feb. 10, KTVE reported that the department had launched an investigation after a video of the incident went viral on Facebook. It allegedly took place just after 8 a.m. at the school’s common area. According to the footage, Perry, who was then serving as the school resource officer, is seen standing behind Dekyrion Ellis, a student, with his arm around Ellis’ neck.
“I feared for my life,” Ellis told the station at the time. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I blacked out. I really didn’t see anything until he took me back to the office.”
The confrontation apparently stemmed from another one that occurred between Ellis and a different student, Ellis said. Ellis claimed that the student had struck him, prompting the two to shove one another before other students tried to step in and grab a hold of them.
“The police officer pushed the kids off of me and he grabbed me and started choking me against the glass,” Ellis told KTVE.
The high schooler, who reportedly went to a hospital to get an X-ray of his neck, said Perry used unnecessary force to de-escalate the situation.
“He could’ve taken me to the office,” Ellis said. “He didn’t have to restrain me. It wasn’t like I was trying to get away from him. I wasn’t resisting arrest.”
The episode sparked outrage from Ellis’ family, who similarly criticized Perry.
“My son couldn’t even breathe,” Ellis’ mother, Alonna Parker, told KTVE. “It was just really uncalled for.”
Delondra Ellis, the teenager’s grandmother, also slammed the former officer for his behavior.
“It was totally unnecessary for him to use that excessive force on my grandson,” she said. “The look he had on his face to me looked like he was proud of what he was doing.”
In the aftermath of the encounter between the student and officer, Woody told KTVE that his department had immediately looked into the incident prior to Perry’s firing.
“The minute I found out that there was what appeared to be misconduct on his behalf, we took actions to stop it so that it couldn’t continue,” Woody said.
The department initially placed Perry, who had been with the police force for over two years, on paid leave before ultimately determining that the officer was in the wrong. Woody said that he had never had an issue with Perry until the incident took place. Ellis’ family, however, asserted that there had been ongoing issues between Perry and other students before the footage of his chokehold went viral.
“I have inboxes from people that don’t know me but know the officer that’s in the video and one word they described him was a bully,” Ellis’ father, Dexter Parker, said.
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