Two former Louisiana police officers have been indicted in connection with a violent scuffle in which a 14-year-old special-needs student was body slammed -- twice, and on camera -- in the front office of the boy’s middle school in October.
Anthony "Kip" Dupre is charged with malfeasance in office and Dan Cipriano is charged with simple battery, according to The Advocate in Baton Rouge. Both are former police officers in the small West Baton Rouge Parish town of Brusly.
The Oct. 5 incident at Brusly Middle School came to light in mid-November, when an anonymous source leaked surveillance camera footage from the school to WAFB in Baton Rouge. The Advocate reported, however, that Brusly Police Chief Jonathan Lefeaux was made aware of the incident immediately after it happened.
Lefeaux said his investigators obtained the surveillance footage from the school less than a week after the incident. After viewing it, he turned it and all other information over to the Louisiana State Police for investigation.
"Once I seen the video, I said, 'Oh Lord,' you know," Lefeaux told the newspaper. "So that's when I called them to look at it."
Once Louisiana troopers completed their investigation, they turned their findings over to the West Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office, which put the matter before a grand jury.
Watch the footage of the Oct. 5 incident, originally obtained by WAFB, below. Warning: The images may be too graphic for some readers.
WAFB reported that the boy had allegedly gotten into an argument with the school's vice principal over the amount of detention he was given for cursing. The teen had gone to the office to call his grandmother so she could pick him up from school.
The video footage, which appeared to be filmed from a corner overlooking the reception desk in the front office, shows staff members helping the boy use the phone on the desk. About 15 seconds into the footage, Dupre, who had just recently become the school’s resource officer, walks into the office.
The video, which does not have audio, shows Dupre point at the boy and say something to him. After a few seconds, as Dupre continues talking, the boy appears to abandon his phone call and turn toward the door to leave the office.
Dupre grabs him as he goes by, putting the boy into a chokehold and slamming him onto the floor.
The front desk obscures most of the fight, but Dupre at one point is seen putting his glasses on the desk. As he continues to struggle with the boy, his right arm and shoulder make quick jabbing movements that appear to be punches.
During the struggle, the officer’s handgun either comes loose from his hip or he removes it. Dupre appears to hand it behind his back to a female staff member, who quickly grabs it and places it on the desk.
According to The Advocate, Dupre claimed after the incident that the teen reached for his weapon during their scuffle. Sources initially told WAFB that the boy admitted reaching for the gun, but his family's lawyer, Kwame Asante, told the news station in late November that the teen never knowingly reached for the weapon.
Asante said his client may have inadvertently grabbed Dupre’s tactical belt while trying to push him away.
See Asante and the boy’s grandmother address the leaked footage below, courtesy of WAFB.
About a minute and 45 seconds into the footage, Dupre stands up, holding the boy in a headlock. He lifts the teen, upside down and by his head and neck, and body slams him back onto the floor.
The female staff members appear shocked and upset, one woman putting her hands on her face and pacing. Another staff member uses Dupre’s police radio, which the officer had also placed on the desk, to repeat a call for backup the officer made during the initial struggle.
The office workers watch as Dupre appears to pin the boy to the ground and hold him there for more than a minute. Just after the three-minute mark in the video, Cipriano shows up to help Dupre put the boy in handcuffs.
The office staffer closest to the continuing scuffle, which remains obscured by the desk, turns her face away, visibly upset.
Once the student is handcuffed, Cipriano drags him off the floor by his backpack, which the teen is still wearing. A moment later, Cipriano slams the boy face down onto one end of the front desk, startling the already shaken office workers.
Once the officers move the student out into the hallway, one of the office staff members puts on rubber gloves and appears to clean up the spots where Dupre and Cipriano fought with the boy, including where his face lay on the desk.
It was not clear from the video if she was cleaning up blood. The boy's grandmother told WAFB her grandson suffered bruises and a cut on his chin.
Both Dupre and Cipriano were placed on administrative leave immediately following the incident, The Advocate reported. According to The Associated Press, Lefeaux sought the officers' resignations because he felt it would be too difficult for them to continue policing the community.
Both officers resigned in November. WAFB reported that both had been on the Brusly police force for three years.
The teen's grandmother, who is raising him following the death of his mother when he was 9, told the news station her grandson continues to suffer physical injuries, as well as psychological issues, from the assault.
Asante, who said he plans to file a civil rights lawsuit on the teen's behalf, told WAFB the boy was already troubled, suffering from anxiety and depression. He is classified as a special needs student, his grandmother told the news station.
The charges filed against the officers amount to a “slap on the wrist,” Asante told The Advocate.
"(The grandparents) feel the DA's office did an adequate job by bringing it quickly to the people, but feel it was a slap on the wrist based on the tape and what they saw done to their grandson," Asante said Friday after the indictments were announced. "This young man will still be dealing with this for a long time."
The family has been satisfied, however, with the actions taken by the West Baton Rouge school district and the Brusly Police Department after the fact to ensure that an incident like this one does not happen to another student, the attorney said.