US police officer accused of kneeling on neck of 12-year-old girl

The off-duty cop reportedly did so to to restrain her after a school fight in Kenosha



AP
AP

By Reuters

Published: Sun 20 Mar 2022, 10:51 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Mar 2022, 10:56 PM

Reuters

An off-duty police officer accused of placing his knee on the neck of a 12-year-old girl to restrain her after a school fight in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is under investigation and remains employed, the city’s police department said in a statement.

The March 4 incident at Lincoln Middle School drew fresh public attention after the city’s school district, which employed Shawn Guetschow as a part-time security guard when he was off duty from the city police force, publicly released video of it on Friday.

It comes the year after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who used a similar knee restraint on George Floyd as he cried “I can’t breathe,” was convicted of murder and sentenced to 22-1/2 years in prison.

Guetschow resigned from his security guard post for the Kenosha Unified School District, but remains employed by the city police force, Kenosha Police Department said on Twitter.

The district provided Reuters with surveillance video of the incident, showing two female students fighting in a lunch room before two adults intervened. One of the adults took one of the students to the ground, placing his knee on her neck while handcuffing her, the video showed.

An attorney for the girl said during a news conference last week that it “mirrored the same maneuver that Derek Chauvin used to murder George Floyd.”

Guetschow “held her face against the floor, he positioned himself behind her, lifted his right leg, and pressed his knee down into the back of her neck,” said Drew DeVinney, the attorney for the girl, who was identified only as “Jerrel Perez’s daughter.”

She “told him she couldn’t breathe,” DeVinney said, but “the officer continued to push his knee into Jerrel’s daughter’s neck,” adding that Guetschow eventually handcuffed and arrested her.

According to US media, Guetschow said he resigned from his role with the school system due to the “mental and emotional strain” the event has brought upon his family. Attempts to reach Guetschow for comment on Sunday were unsuccessful.

Kenosha has a troubled past with police using force.

In August 2020, a white Kenosha police officer shot a Black man several times in the back in front of his young children. That man, Jacob Blake, was left paralyzed from the waist down.

The incident sparked days of deadly protests against police brutality and racism in his hometown and across the United States. The officer was not charged in the incident.

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In June, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed into law a measure that bans police use of choke holds.

The school district, noting that DeVinney threatened legal action against the district, the officer and the police department, declined to comment on Sunday other than to say that Guetschow resigned from his school role on March 15.

Kenosha Police declined further comment on Sunday.

DeVinney did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.


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