Pawtucket, Rhode Island police officials said Thursday that an officer pepper sprayed and arrested eight high school students and two adults during a protest held to draw attention to the arrest of two classmates the day before.
The protest stemmed from the arrest of two teens at Tolman High School at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, which was recorded on a cell phone and posted online.
That footage shows a school resource officer handcuffing a student before brutally taking down another to the screams and condemnation of onlooking classmates.
Police say the incident started when the officer arrested a 14-year-old boy who was shouting obscenities and threatening to fight with another student, when the boy’s older brother tried to interfere.
Police claim the two boys then attacked the officer, one of them striking him in the face, before the school cop got the older boy to the ground and used a takedown maneuver on the younger one.
Watch the raw footage:
The footage appears to show that the teen that was slammed to the ground, was walking away from the officer with his back turned at the moment he was taken down, casting doubt about the officers version of events.
“The officer managed to get the 17-year-old subject on the ground and was attempting to handcuff him, when the second juvenile started to approach the officer from behind,” a Pawtucket police spokesperson said. “The officer saw the individual approaching him, grabbed the juvenile and used a takedown on the juvenile.”
In response to an outraged community, police said a small delegation of students was invited to City Hall on Thursday to discuss the incident.
An accompanying demonstration of around 200 protesters began across the street from the High School at around 8 a.m., but turned unruly after police say a fire alarm was pulled, causing students to be evacuated.
Mayor Donald Grebien said the protest took a further turn after a student reportedly broke a car window and the crowd moved to the parking lot of a private business.
Police claim the students were spitting at and threatening officers, and at one point one, an officer discharged pepper spray at the crowd.
“The message is for cops to ease up on kids,” student Montrell Sivils said. “We shouldn’t be treated as criminals.”
Police say 10 people were arrested for disorderly conduct – 8 students and 2 adults – including a student who allegedly pulled the fire alarm and a student who allegedly broke the window.
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