Surveillance footage released by school officials in Kenosha, Wisconsin shows an off-duty police officer putting his knee on a 12-year-old girl’s neck in an attempt to break up a fight, NBC News reports.
The Kenosha Unified School District released edited footage of Shawn Guetschow, who was working as a security guard at the school, trying to break up the fight before falling to the ground and hitting his head on a table.
Guetschow then pushes the girl’s head into the ground, places his knee on her neck for around thirty seconds before handcuffing her and escorting her out of the cafeteria.
Jerrel Perez, the girl’s father, has called for criminal charges to be brought against Guetschow for using a chokehold that was banned by Wisconsin law enforcement officers last year. He added that his daughter is currently in therapy and seeing a neurologist for the injuries she sustained in the altercation. She’s been medically excused from school for two weeks.
Following the incident, the school district placed Guetschow on paid leave but he resigned from his position with the school last Tuesday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Guetschow claimed in his resignation letter that the incident has greatly impacted his family and that the school district failed to support him throughout the ordeal.
"Given the events that have taken place and the escalated attention this incident at Lincoln Middle School has caused in the community, mental and emotional strain it has bought upon my family, and the lack of communication and or support I have received from the district, I can no longer continue my employment with the Kenosha Unified School District," his letter read.
Drew Devinney, Perez's attorney, argued that Guetschow was acting in an on-duty capacity when he placed Perez's daughter in a chokehold. Also, he added that they will be filing a lawsuit against the officer, the school district and the Kenosha police department. He said that his client was being bullied and defended herself.
"At no point did Jerrel's daughter push or strike at this officer," he said. During her restraint, Perez's daughter screamed that she couldn't breathe, Devinney added.
Tanya Ruder, the school district's chief communications officer acknowledged that the district is anticipating litigation as a result of the incident.
"As it appears that this incident may lead to litigation, the district will provide no further details at this time," Ruder said.
Perez, Devinney, and activists from Kenosha, Milwaukee as well as Chicago organized a protest outside the school district on Wednesday. They likened Guetschow’s treatment of the girl to Derek Chauvin’s chokehold that killed George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Once again, Kenosha is under the spotlight for incidents involving law enforcement and Black citizens. As EBONY previously reported, the U.S. Justice Department said it will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against a Kenosha police officer for his involvement in the shooting of Jacob Blake.
On Aug. 23, 2020, Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake seven times in the back, in front of his three sons, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, after responding to a report of a domestic dispute, the authorities claimed.
In a statement, the Kenosha police department said they are addressing the matter and Guetschow is still employed by the department.
“We continue our investigation, paying careful attention to the entire scope of the incident,” the statement said. “We have no further update at this time.”