The behavior of two former Chicago school resource officers has been brought under further scrutiny after newly released surveillance footage showed them dragging a 16-year-old girl down a flight of stairs and Tasering her multiple times.
Dnigma Howard’s encounter with the officers began early in February. Video footage taken by an unidentified student showed the teen on the ground struggling, while an officer is seen stepping on her foot, leg, and stomach.
Officers initially claimed that Howard became aggressive and bit an officer, refusing to let go until they both fell down the stairs. Howard insisted from the very beginning that she felt as if the officer was trying to push her down the stairwell and that she was merely trying to defend herself.
The young girl was initially charged with two felony counts of aggravated battery against an officer; however, those charges were later dropped.
Now, new surveillance footage shows more of the story, which was not captured by the initial footage—and tells a different story from officers’ earlier claims.
In the new footage, Howard and an officer can be seen standing at the top of the stairs before the officer grabs her and drags her to the ground. The officer then drags Howard down a flight of stairs by one foot.
“I thought maybe they were going to try to choke her out or she would lose consciousness or something like that,” said the father, who had already gone to the school that day to pick up his daughter after she was kicked out of class for refusing to put away her cellphone. “They had their foot on her chest. She has asthma, she’s telling me she can’t breathe.”
The video also shows the two officers—identified as Johnnie Pierre and Sherry Tripp—kicking and punching the young girl several times. Officers then Tasered her three times.
Both officers were reassigned after the fallout from the incident escalated and no longer work at the school.
“The Board of Education and the Chicago Police Department continue to fail our children,” Howard’s lawyer, Andrew M. Stroth, told the news station. “An unarmed, 16-year-old girl was beaten, kicked, punched and Tasered by Officers Johnnie Pierre and Sherry Tripp at Marshall High School. The Inspector General’s report and the Consent Decree have made clear recommendations to effectively address the issue of police in school.”
A spokesperson with the police said that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability “has not given us the recommendation to relieve [the officers] of police powers as of yet.”
“We hold our officers to the highest level of professional standards. CPD will remain guided by the facts of the investigation,” the department said in a statement. “Due to the fact that this incident is currently under the jurisdiction of COPA for the purpose of an independent investigation, we cannot comment on the specifics of the incident or the investigation.”