CAMDEN, Ark. (AP) — Student Dekyrion Ellis said he feared for his life when a police officer placed him in a chokehold while restraining him following a fight that broke out in an Arkansas high school.
Camden Police Officer Jake Perry, who’s white, was caught on video Monday morning with both his arms wrapped around Dekyrion’s neck. In the video, Perry stands behind Dekyrion, who’s black, and lifts him off the floor multiple times while his arms lock around the boy’s neck for at least 12 seconds. Perry, assigned as a student resource officer, was restraining the boy in what appears to be a common area at Camden Fairview High School.
“I feared for my life,” Dekyrion said. “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.”
Camden Police Chief Boyd Woody on Monday placed the officer on leave pending investigation after a video of the alteration circulated on Facebook. The video has been removed after it had garnered at least 18,000 shares Monday evening.
In an interview with KTVE, Dekyrion explained that the altercation with the officer stemmed from a fight he had with another student Monday morning. The ninth-grade student said he and another student pushed each other before the officer stepped in and escalated the situation.
“The police officer pushed the kids off of me and he grabbed me and started choking me against the glass,” Dekyrion recalled. “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 student’s mother, Alonna Parker, condemned the officer’s handling of the altercation.
“My son couldn’t even breathe,” she said.
Dekyrion said his physical pain doesn’t matter as much as the shame and embarrassment he experienced resulting from the altercation. The family is calling for Perry to be fired and plan to press charges against him.
“If we don’t get anything done then it’s going to keep going on,” Parker said. “They’re not going to do anything about it.”
Woody said his department will be transparent with the student’s family and the public about the investigation into Perry’s misconduct.
“There’s nothing that I would do to interfere with the just and proper way to handle this situation,” Woody said. “There’s always an incident that sparks new policies and procedures and this is just going to be one of them.”