Witness video shows struggle between student and officer at Burlington High School

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 10:52 PM CDT
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BURLINGTON, Iowa (KYOU) - A controversial video is circulating in the Burlington School District. It shows a 15-year-old girl being restrained by a school resource officer. The video is now raising questions about what led up to the incident and how school officials handled the situation.

The four-second clip has become a major topic of discussion in Burlington. The clip, shot on another student’s phone, shows a student at Burlington High School being physically restrained by school resource officer, Brian Carper. The student can be heard yelling, “Get your f****** hands off of me.”

Photos from the family show how the struggle left the child with bruising on her arms, wrist, and neck.

In a press release from the Burlington Police Department, officers say they received a tip from some students saying another student had marijuana in their backpack. The school resource officer and staff then located those drugs in the trash. After, they asked the accused student to follow them to the office. That’s when police say the student began physically resisting and struck Officer Carper.

After watching the surveillance video herself, the student’s mother saw it differently.

“There’s some more commotion. They’re grabbing her. And then she goes to the ground and then Carper gets on top of her, ” said Brittany Connelly, the student’s mother.

Brittney Connelly says school staff tried to snatch the backpack from her daughter before going to the ground and attempting to cut the backpack straps off with a knife. Connelly says the staff showed an excessive use of force; and says her child was targeted.

She says the school never did find drugs on the student in question. Her child has been charged with interference with official acts and assault on a peace officer.

The incident sparked student protests Friday afternoon at the high school. The students, and some parents, called for the firing of Officer Carper and the associate principal who was also involved in the struggle.

The Burlington Community School District released a statement of their own that read in part, “Upon completion of the investigation, it is our finding that these allegations are false and unsubstantiated. We are disheartened by this individual’s attempt to spread false and slanderous information about the district.”

Connelly says she doesn’t want anyone to lose their jobs; she just wants the school to admit to wrongdoing.

“What are going to be these two employees of yours consequences for handling this situation the wrong way? They used excessive force on a 15-year-old child that is literally, fully-clothed, 110 pounds,” said Connelly.

Bodycam footage from the incident has not been released. Connelly plans to pull her child from the district at the completion of this school year.

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