published Thursday, June 6th, 2013

LaFayette High School student who posted Taser video tells school (with video)

Tasing in LaFayette
Youtube video shot by LaFayette student.
A screen shot from video shows a school resource officer using a stun gun to break up a fight between two girls at LaFayette High.
A screen shot from video shows a school resource officer using a stun gun to break up a fight between two girls at LaFayette High.
Youtube video screenshot

LAFAYETTE, Ga. — A LaFayette High School student turned herself in for using her cellphone to record video of a school resource officer using a Taser stun gun to break up a May 23 fight between two girls at school.

"It took a few days, but she came forward," Walker County Schools Superintendent Damon Raines said. "I think she just got nervous."

The video's appearance on YouTube and news websites drew hundreds of comments, ranging from outrage to support of the school district's first-ever stun gun use on a student.

The video violated the school's "appropriate use" policy for cellphones, Raines said. Students aren't supposed to post videos and photos from school online.

But punishment will be light for the girl, whom Raines declined to identify.

"We'll just make sure we monitor [her], so that doesn't happen again," Raines said, adding that the student is a "great kid; never been in trouble."

She'll be allowed to use her phone when school resumes in the fall -- but she'll be on probation and will lose the right to bring a cellphone to school if she violates policy again, he said.

The video the girl provided to school officials was a little longer than the 28-second YouTube version, he said.

"It gave us an opportunity to view the entire video to ensure that the officer followed the appropriate protocol," Raines said.

LaFayette Police Chief Bengie Clift reaffirmed his support for the resource officer, Billy Mullis, who's a city police officer.

While websites were awash with comments about the incident, the chief said he'd be interested in moving beyond criticism or support for the officer involved to a more general discussion about Taser use in schools, he said.

"This is something that should be discussed," Clift said. "I'm not defensive about it."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@times freepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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