Police in Camden, Arkansas, on Tuesday were investigating a suspended officer who was caught on video choking out a student at Camden Fairview High School.
The video went viral on Facebook Monday after a witness managed to record the incident and post it. Officer Jake Perry had been assigned to the school as the resource officer but has since been placed on leave, Chief Boyd M. Woody told reporters.
“The minute I found out that there was what appeared to be misconduct on his behalf, we took actions to stop it so that it couldn’t continue,” Woody said. “I will have an answer within the next couple of days of what it’s going to take to resolve this.”
Perry is seen in the video placing a chokehold on a student identified as Dekyrion Ellis, pulling back as the student begins to pass out and then leaving with him.
Dekyrion said he had gotten into an argument with a friend that was beginning to escalate in the school’s common area.
“He [the student] hit me. I pushed him,” he said. “Then he pushed me and I pushed him harder to where he fell on the ground. That’s when the kids started grabbing me and him.”
Perry reportedly intervened and began choking Dekyrion.
“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.”
Dekyrion’s family arrived shortly after and took him to the hospital to undergo X-rays on his neck. He said there was still some pain, but he was otherwise OK.
His family was quick to voice their outrage over the incident.
“It was totally unnecessary for him to use that excessive force on my grandson,” Dekyrion’s grandmother, Delondra Ellis, told reporters. “The look he had on his face to me looked like he was proud of what he was doing.”
They also accused Perry of being a “bully” and said he has a poor reputation among students at the school.
“I have inboxes from people that don’t know me but know the officer that’s in the video and one word they described him was a bully,” said Dekyrion’s father, Dexter Parker.
Woody said investigators are looking at bodycam and security footage. He said he hopes to have a decision on whether to take disciplinary action by the end of the week.