(Reuters) – A police officer was videotaped slamming to the floor a female African-American student at a North Carolina school on Tuesday, according to officials and a video of the incident, which sparked outrage after circulating on social media.
The officer, identified by officials in the town of Rolesville as Ruben De Los Santos, can be seen in the video grabbing the student at Rolesville High School around the chest and abdomen, lifting her off the ground and then slamming her to the ground.
The officer then hoists the girl and walks her through a crowd of students while pinning her arms behind her back.
Lisa Luten, a spokeswoman for the Wake County Public School System, said the officer was responding to a fight between two girls on Tuesday morning and the girl who was slammed to the floor had tried to intervene.
“We’re in the process right now of working with the Rolesville Police Department to gather all the details around the incident to ensure that we take appropriate action,” Luten said.
The town of Rolesville said in a brief statement that De Los Santos has been placed on administrative leave and said the Rolesville Police Department asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to investigate the case.
Police could not be reached for comment.
The incident comes amid heightened scrutiny of the use of force by police against people of color due to numerous high-profile killings and assaults of African-Americans by law enforcement across the United States over the last two years.
The video drew angry reactions on social media, as the hashtag #RolesvilleHigh was trending on Twitter in North Carolina.
“Very disturbing video. Students should never be treated this way,” the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said in a tweet.
Desiree Harrison, who identified herself as the mother of the girl, Jasmine Darwin, told local broadcaster WRAL she was shocked by the video. “When I’m looking at this video, I’m like ‘Oh my god, this cannot be happening to my child,’” she said.
A video published online by WTVD shows two girls in a fist fight before being separated and then pans to show the officer slamming the other girl to the floor.
The broadcaster said the officer had been assigned to the high school since 2013.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Writing by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Leslie Adler)