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Video incites debate on police force against student - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Beaumont ISD officer who broke student's arm releases statement on incident

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A Beaumont ISD police officer remains on administrative leave without pay Wednesday for his role in what ultimately lead to a student with a broken arm.

According to cell phone video first obtained by 12News Monday, Officer Stephen Rivers was assisting in breaking up a fight at West Brook high school on March 7. In attempting to restrain a student, Rivers pulled back the arm of the student and broke it.

Rivers' attorney Gordon Friesz Wednesday released a statement on behalf of Rivers.
 
"The fact that Officer Rivers has been placed on unpaid leave is a function of him being a part-time officer with the Beaumont Independent School District Police Department and does not imply any impropriety or wrongdoing on his part.  On behalf of Officer Rivers, we respectfully request that all interested parties, the media and the public respect the investigative process and not rush to judgment in this case.  Although we believe there are additional facts to be developed that have not yet been divulged and we anticipate will exonerate Officer Rivers in this unfortunate incident, it is not appropriate to comment further while the investigative process is ongoing."
 

The video in its entirety shows people, presumably West Brook High School faculty, assisting in restraining a number of students. 

One student appears to struggle violently to get away from a female security guard. Eventually Officer Rivers helps take the student down.

The student's mother accuses Rivers of breaking her son's arm while the teen was being restrained. 

Rivers told 12News in a facebook message Tuesday to "Please understand that young man was fighting until the end." 

Since it was exclusively aired on 12news Monday night the video has gone viral on web sites like worldstarhiphop.com and reddit stirring debate about Rivers' actions. 

Former West Brook Principal and current Port Neches-Groves Superintendent Rodney Cavness weighed in. 

"The bottom line is the kid was told to stop. He made an aggressive move through the crowd. He endangered a lot of people. That's what it escalated to. Whether the cop was right or wrong it all could've been avoided. That's what we try to teach kids," Dr. Cavness said.

Beaumont I.S.D. Trustee Mike Neil has gone public saying Officer Rivers has his full support. 

Beaumont Police Sergeant Rob Flores withheld personal opinion. He instead cited over social media the 1989 Supreme Court case Graham v. Conner which defines reasonable use of force by a police officer in the line of duty. 

In summary it states application of "Reasonable Force" depends on the facts. 

The severity of the crime, whether the student was an immediate threat to the officer and others or if he was resisting arrest by force. 
     
Whether his actions fit that criteria are currently under review by the Beaumont I.S.D. Police Chief Clydell Duncan. 


 

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