Criminal charges should not be pursued against a former resource officer who body slammed a 15-year-old female student as he tried to break up a fight at a North Carolina school, a grand jury has decided.
After an 8-second video of what happened went viral online, the Rolesville Police Department placed Officer Ruben De Los Santos on administrative leave pending an investigation. The student, Jasmine Darwin, told CNN affiliate WRAL that she was in shock after the incident.
“Every time I look at it, it’s embarrassing,” she told WRAL. “I didn’t even realize it happened.”
Grand Jury declines to authorize charges
De Los Santos had responded to reports of a fight between two female students in the Rolesville High School cafeteria on January 3, according to a statement from Wake County District Attorney N. Lorrin Freeman. At some point Darwin had become involved in the altercation.
When then-Officer De Los Santos arrived, he tried to pull Darwin away from the fight, but she “struggled away.” De Los Santos then grabbed Darwin’s arms, “turned around, hoisted her in the air and slammed her to the ground,” the district attorney’s statement said.
The grand jury could have recommended De Los Santos be charged with willful failure to discharge his duties and assault on a female, but decided Tuesday that no charges should be pursued.
Freeman said the grand jury’s decision marked the end of her office’s inquiry into the incident, but that she would be sending the case to the North Carolina Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission. The commission has the power to suspend an officer’s law enforcement certification for a rule violation such as the use of excessive force.
“Our law enforcement officers are engaged daily in difficult interactions where they often are required to intervene,” Freeman said in the statement.
“As they strive to maintain the peace and protect our community, it’s important that proper and legal boundaries on the use of force are followed.”
De Los Santos submitted his letter of resignation last Thursday — nearly two months after the incident.
“During Officer de Los Santos tenure with the Town, he was respected by his peers and the community at large,” Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston said in a statement.
“In this profession, law enforcement officers must make split-second decisions in tense and rapidly evolving circumstances. Sometimes that split-second decision doesn’t define the long standing character of the officer.” Chief Langston had no comment regarding the grand jury’s decision.