Killeen, TX — Once again, the Killeen police department is in the news for the way it is treating the citizens it is sworn to protect. This time, it was a gay student by the name of J.W. who got into a fight with another boy by the name of Travis. When police arrived, despite being told by the bus driver Travis was the “problem child” and the instigator bully, police apprehended J.W., forcefully taking him off the bus, and then body-slamming him onto the hard ground.
The incident took place on April 21, 2016, but only recently became national news when lawyers for J.W. and his family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in Waco’s federal court this week. At the time, the bus driver noticed a fight taking place on her bus. J.W., who students say was being bullied by Travis—in part, because he is reportedly gay—defended himself. The bus driver pulled over, broke up the fight, and then called police to intervene.
Upon arrival, the bus driver can be overheard in the security video on the bus telling the police she wants Travis off of her bus and pointed him out to the officers. “I didn’t start shit, bitch,” yelled J.W. Immediately, the police grabbed J.W. and jerked him off the bus. Still pointing at Travis, one of the officers tossed J.W., body slamming him on the ground.
While it is understandable that police want to immediately control the chaotic situation, and it may even be logical for them to have removed J.W. from the bus first, why they decided to slam the young boy to the ground is incredulous, to say the least. It seems the police officer not only infringed on the student’s right to free speech, but he also injured the boy who was being bullied—not the aggressor.
This is why J.W.’s family is suing, according to their lawyer, Robert Ranco. In court documents obtained by KWTX, the lawsuit claims J.W. was the real victim, and Travis was the aggressor:
“Travis picked a fight and physically assaulted J.W. in the back of the bus. J.W. attempted to defend himself. The bus driver pulled the bus over and called the police. The driver then separated the boys, bringing J.W. to the front, and leaving Travis in the back of the bus. The fight stopped.”
Killeen officers claimed in their report that J.W. assaulted them, and therefore had to be physically restrained in the manner in which he was thrown to the ground. The lawsuit disputes their contention that the officers were assaulted — so does the video. The suit reads:
“Despite what the officers wrote in the police report, J.W. was not resisting, was not attempting to get away, and was not a threat to the officers or anyone else at the time J.W. was lifted off the ground and body slammed on the hard pavement. He did not threaten the officers or anyone else. J.W. was never given a chance to comply with any order, as no order or instruction was given.”
The video seems to corroborate the story being told by J.W.’s lawyers. It shows the officers violently slam J.W. to the ground, much to the viewing pleasure of the bus’ occupants, his fellow classmates. Both video and audio evidence appear to support J.W.’s contention that he was the victim twice in one day—once at the hands of Travis, and another time at the hands of Killeen police.
As TFTP has reported on numerous occasions, police and students simply do not mix well together. Not only are school resource officers often violent when dealing with students in conflict, but they are sometimes the bullies.
If J.W.’s family does win in court, it is likely that local taxpayers will fund any civil settlement reached between the city of Killeen and the family. Tax rates will rise, and yet, not much in the way of police tactics or behaviors will change.
J.W. suffered a concussion and is seeking reimbursement for his medical bills, as well as an unspecified amount of money for pain, suffering and mental anguish.