A school district and police department are facing heavy criticism following an incident where an officer used a stun gun on a student in school. A Cayce, South Carolina police officer reportedly tased 16-year-old Treyvon Hampton during a brawl involving several students. Now, Hampton’s family is taking action as his lawyer calls for stricter regulation of armed police in schools.
The brawl reportedly broke out at Airport High School on Wednesday, December 9. According to the family’s lawyer, Rep. Justin Bamberg, the altercation began when some students tried to attack Hampton’s friend, prompting him to intervene.
My client Treyvon Hampton, a sophomore at Airport High School in Columbia, was tased by a School Resource Officer (SRO) on Wednesday during an altercation w/ other students near the bus stop. Do you want SROs using weapons on South Carolina’s school children? Treyvon was unarmed. pic.twitter.com/6GK9aglfLV— Justin Bamberg, Esq. (@JustinBamberg) December 11, 2020
Cell phone video from the scene shows several children fighting, including Hampton, for a few moments before officers arrive to break it up. At about 22 seconds in, a Cayce officer’s arm enters the frame from the right, apparently pointing the stun gun at Hampton, who is clad in a white sweater. Moments later, Hampton falls to the ground face first and screams can be heard in the background.
Nearly motionless, Hampton can then be seen placing his hands behind his back as an officer bends down to cuff him.
Police later arrested five students and charged them with misdemeanors in the fight, according to Cayce spokesperson Ashley Hunter. The city released no word on whether or not Hampton was one of those charged.
A Justified Use Of Force?
“It’s not OK to use weapons on unarmed children,” Hampton’s lawyer Bamberg said. In a press conference on Friday, December 11, the attorney appeared alongside his client to condemn the officers’ actions.
Should a school resource officer be able to use force against your CHILD at school that would land parents in jail & the child in DSS custody if they did it to their own child at home?— Justin Bamberg, Esq. (@JustinBamberg) December 11, 2020
Via @postandcourier @joey_cranney https://t.co/B2Y6KDVMcV pic.twitter.com/yJH6kgQgXs
“[Stun guns are] a very dangerous weapon,” Bamberg said. “Tasers can kill people.”
The Cayce police department, however, disagreed. They confirmed that the unnamed officer was one of their own, but defended the use of force, saying the officer had already been cleared by an internal review.
Hunter joined in on defending the use of a stun gun, as Hampton allegedly “posed imminent danger both to the many students involved in the altercation itself, as well as other students, teachers and staff in the area.”
Nevertheless, Bamberg has continued to call for South Carolina schools to institute policies specific to officers using force on campus.
“Are they there to police children like they police adults on the street?” he said. “Or are they there to be a student resource?”
Bamberg, who also sits in the South Carolina House of Representatives, said that he is considering drafting legislation on the matter.
Meanwhile, Lexington School District Two has pledged to conduct their own investigation into the incident.
“The district takes seriously the safety of its students,” said spokesperson Dawn Kujawa.
Two days after the incident, Hampton reportedly had minor scrapes and a swollen elbow but has recovered from the painful shock of the stun gun hit.
“The pain — I don’t wish that on anyone,” the 16-year old said.
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