Tyler Clavelle and Ndeye Badiane

Tyler Clavelle, left, and Ndeye Badiane

An encounter last March that began with marijuana in a dorm and an argument over a bathroom escalated into six police officers using force to arrest two students, in an incident that has recently circulated online and in the Keene State community.

Ndeye Badiane and her fiancé, Tyler Clavelle, who are Black, say the force was excessive.

“Nobody was in danger,” Badiane, who goes by Khady, said in a recent interview. “None of this was necessary.”

Badiane has called attention to the March 16 incident on social media in recent weeks after, she said, talking with college officials over several months last year and being unsatisfied with their response. She said they’ve hired an attorney and are considering legal action against the college and the city.

Keene police say the force was an appropriate response to two people resisting arrest.

“I will say the KPD maintains, and there are outside witnesses, that there was absolutely no use of excessive force, and that the minimal force used was reasonable and necessary due to the active resistance of the suspects,” Police Chief Steven Russo wrote in an email to The Sentinel last week. “As you know, people are free to write any version of events they wish on social media. Those involved and who wrote these posts did not file a complaint with our department, nor any other agency that I know of.”

Police charged Clavelle, 23, with trespassing and resisting arrest and Badiane, then 21, with resisting arrest and simple assault. The cases remain pending.

The college has received numerous messages about the incident since Badiane’s posts, according to Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell.

“As a result of this specific incident, we have implemented de-escalation training and we are expanding professional development programming for our employees, we will also be updating our campus safety/Keene City Police crisis management protocols and expectations,” she said in a message to students, staff and alumni Monday.

This story is based on interviews with Badiane and Clavelle, police reports, reports by the two college employees at the scene and two fragmentary videos from Badiane’s cellphone. The officers were not wearing body cameras, which the Keene Police Department does not use but is currently considering.

Russo declined to comment further because of the pending case and did not respond to a detailed list of questions. The officers mentioned did not respond to requests for comment.

‘I just froze’

Residence director Jessica L’HommeDieu and campus safety officer Mike Gomez originally came to Badiane’s dorm room that afternoon about a marijuana violation.

Badiane was sick that day and had started vomiting after taking cold medicine. She said the marijuana was an attempt to quell her nausea and anxiety. Clavelle, a student who lived off campus, was there taking care of her.

Soon after, Clavelle — who uses male pronouns but identifies as nonbinary — and L’HommeDieu argued about whether he could use the women’s restroom, prompting a heated exchange during which she said he would have to leave the building. When he refused, Gomez called Keene police.

The two officers who arrived, Joshua English and Michael Goodchild, told Clavelle he needed to leave. He argued with them but eventually said he’d go if he could change first. He says he was wearing thin clothes with no extra layers.

English told him an officer would have to accompany him into Badiane’s room “as he had been asked to leave the building,” according to his report. (Goodchild’s report references “safety reasons.”) Clavelle refused, not wanting to change in front of an officer.

At some point, English told Clavelle he was under arrest. According to reports by English and Goodchild, when Clavelle ignored their instructions, each officer grabbed an arm. Goodchild wrote that Clavelle tried to pull away from English.

Clavelle and Badiane said they recall an officer abruptly saying he was arresting Clavelle and then the two officers going for his arms.

Clavelle remembers them telling him to stop resisting. He said he feared that if his arms were loose, the officers would claim he went for one of their weapons.

“I’m about to end up dead for no f---- — reason, ‘cause I went to the f---- — bathroom,” he recalled thinking.

With his back against the wall, he dropped down to sit on the floor, according to him, Badiane and Goodchild’s report. He said he held his hands together under his legs.

He said he then felt English’s hand pressing on the side of his neck and a finger behind his ear. He said he thought he was being choked.

Badiane said she saw an officer’s hand on Clavelle’s neck and feared for his life. She said she rushed over and ran into one of the officers from the side — Goodchild described feeling a push on his back — knocking them to the floor. 

In his report, English said it was after Badiane intervened that he went for a particular pressure point, which, according to a policing magazine, is located behind the ear at the back of the jaw.

“I had lost control of Tyler’s left arm during the fall to the floor and I felt Tyler’s left arm in the area of my pistol holder,” English wrote. “I had used my right leg and hip to pin Tyler’s left arm against the wall as I was not sure ... if Tyler would attempt to reach for my pistol. I additionally used my right thumb aiming for the mandibular angle pressure point on the left side of Tyler’s face.”

There is no indication Clavelle reached for a weapon. KPD’s use of force policy says pressure points are appropriate when someone “merely delays or hinders the arrest.”

English wrote that he stopped applying pressure after it didn’t seem to work.

Gomez pulled Badiane off the officers. She said he dragged her along the floor by her feet and she tried to kick herself free. Gomez wrote that she was kicking at him, so he grabbed the fabric of her pant legs to stop it. (Gomez declined to comment.)

Clavelle said the two officers kept trying to pull his arms out from under his legs. “I don’t want to let go, because I don’t know what’s about to happen,” he said. He knew an officer’s gun was right next to his arm. “I’m not about to move my arm. So I just froze.”

Badiane stood up and saw multiple officers running up the stairs, she said. When they arrived, English said something like, “She’s going too,” according to Badiane and several reports.

Badiane said multiple officers “tackled” her before she knew what was happening.

Five additional officers — Lt. Steven Tenney, Sgt. Thaddeus “T.J.” Derendal and Officers Lesley Ainsworth, Joseph Maillet and Colin Germain — had responded to a call for backup. When they got there, according to several of their reports, Badiane was yelling and holding a phone.

Derendal wrote that he grabbed Badiane’s left hand but she turned, bumping into Tenney. Tenney wrote that this nearly knocked him backward down the stairs. Derendal and Tenney wrote that Badiane kicked backward, hitting Derendal in the leg.

Derendal wrote he was worried that if Badiane “started to resist or flail her arms that could have caused Lt Tenney to fall down the flight of stairs.” Tenney wrote that Badiane in fact “began to flail again and I thought I was about to get knocked backwards.”

Both Derendal and Tenney then tried to bring her to the ground, according to their reports. Derendal tried to put her in a headlock, he wrote. Tenney wrote that he grabbed her arm and pushed her upper body “in an attempt to escort her to the floor.”

Maillet wrote that she “was screaming and cursing while she tried to fend off the other officers and ended up falling forward to the ground.”

Badiane said she did not kick Derendal or bump into Tenney. She doesn’t think she was close enough to the stairs to risk knocking anyone down them. A brief, chaotic video captured on her phone appears to place her roughly in the middle of the hallway, somewhere between the stairs and the opposite wall.

The video is pointed down the hall, away from Badiane and the officers. Badiane says, “What the f---?” as the video shudders, then hits the ground. Either she or Clavelle yells “Get the f- — off!” A male voice says, “Now you’re under arrest” just as Badiane starts to scream, “Why are there six of you on me?!” She then shrieks several times as if in pain.

It’s not clear if there were six. The police reports mention three officers who brought her to the ground or put her in cuffs after. She said she remembers a couple more.

Badiane said her shoulder was dislocated. One of the police reports describes her complaining of shoulder pain on the way to the station.

Badiane said none of the officers told her she was under arrest or gave her instructions before they grabbed her. The police reports are unclear. Maillet wrote that he told Badiane she was under arrest while others tried to subdue her. Tenney wrote that Derendal said she was under arrest after officers had gone for her arms and she twisted away. Derendal’s own report doesn’t mention him or anyone else saying that.

Once she was on the ground, Badiane reached for Clavelle’s hand, Maillet wrote. “I grabbed her arm, locked it out to the side, applied a pressure point to her upper arm, and forced her arm behind her back so we could place handcuffs on her.”

Other officers got Clavelle into cuffs by rolling him onto his stomach and using a baton to pry one of his arms out from under him.

Clavelle’s mother, LaTisha Clavelle, called KPD the next day and asked Tenney what happened. “When explained,” Tenney wrote in his report, “she advised that this type of behavior sounded like something her son would do.”

LaTisha Clavelle disputed Tenney’s characterization of the call. “What I said was, ‘This does not sound like something my son would do,’ “ she told The Sentinel last month.

An escalating situation

Badiane said the authority figures could have de-escalated the situation before it got that far.

Gomez and L’HommeDieu had already dealt with the marijuana issue when Clavelle went to the restroom to wash his hands. Badiane told The Sentinel he had used that restroom before, as had another nonbinary person on that hall.

L’HommeDieu, still in the hall, told him he couldn’t go in. Clavelle tried to explain his gender identity. “I was like, ‘I’m nonbinary,’ and she’s like, ‘I’m pretty sure you’re not,’ ” Clavelle recalled.

L’HommeDieu’s report does not mention Clavelle saying explicitly that he’s nonbinary. She wrote that he asked why he couldn’t use that restroom, and she told him several times it was because he identified as male. He said she didn’t know his gender, and she responded that she was basing that on Badiane’s use of he/him pronouns and the word “fiancé which is traditionally used in male-female relationships,” she wrote.

“It didn’t feel good,” Clavelle said recently. It reminded him why some Black men stay in the closet. “We’re not moving forward.”

L’HommeDieu declined to comment on specifics because of the pending court case. She said she was just doing her job and enforcing the college’s bathroom policy, noting that there was a gender-neutral bathroom elsewhere in the building.

“It really breaks my heart that he thinks this is gender discrimination,” she said. “… It’s just following school policy. I feel really bad that he feels so hurt by this.”

At some point, Clavelle walked back toward Badiane’s room and said something about talking to “what’s her name.” He was trying to recall the name of a dean, he said. L’HommeDieu asked if he didn’t know his own fiancée’s name. Clavelle said he responded with something like, “F- — you, that was extremely rude, of course I know my fiancée’s name.”

L’HommeDieu and Gomez wrote that Clavelle continued to swear at her. L’HommeDieu wrote that Clavelle was yelling, which he denies. That was when L’HommeDieu said he had to leave.

L’HommeDieu said it was “not a two-way conversation,” adding, “de-escalation is difficult to do when it’s not a two-way conversation.”

Clavelle felt the request to leave was unfair, and Badiane told the two college employees she wanted him to stay. It was also early in the coronavirus pandemic, and the campus health center had told both of them to stay in the dorm until her cold symptoms disappeared.

Badiane said the police officers who arrived seemed unsympathetic.

“There’s like a bunch of people just antagonizing him in this situation, and there wasn’t not one person ... that just took a look around and realized that I was a sick girl with a boy who is clearly scared,” she said.

In an interview last week, Treadwell said the college’s review of the incident did not identify any specific breaches of performance expectations by staff. But she said her hope is that cooler heads prevail any time conflict arises on campus.

There was a point “where we didn’t de-escalate,” she said. “So we didn’t take that step back and separate. And the student didn’t either. So there was a moment where we didn’t hold our values collectively.”

Badiane and Clavelle believe their race influenced how people viewed them that day, saying college staff and police officers seemed to dismiss things they said. Clavelle thinks race affected perceptions of his gender.

“You’re telling me that a white kid a little shorter than me, long hair, just as long as mine, but straight and blond, with blue eyes, and tall look, tall frame, with a crop top and some booty shorts — you would have told that white boy who feels like a girl to not go in that bathroom?”

L’HommeDieu said she couldn’t comment on how they experienced things. She said her actions had nothing to do with Clavelle’s appearance.

Treadwell said her review of the case did not reveal any evidence of bias.

“In all of the records that I’ve been able to see, I do not see examples of specific racially motivated bias in this case,” she said. “What I do see is conflict. What I do see is a very confused environment.”

Now living in Louisiana, Badiane and Clavelle say the events of that day have followed them.

They put their education on hold last year. Badiane said the arrest record has kept her from getting babysitting jobs.

Both said they’ve had trouble sleeping. Police cars and sirens provoke anxiety.

“When I see them as I’m driving, I have to just shut down, because I can’t freak out,” Clavelle said. “I’m f------ driving on the highway, 60 miles an hour. And it takes everything I have to get that car to where it needs to be.”

This article has been updated to correct the description of the angle from which Badiane said she ran into one of the officers, and add a detail about an injury she suffered.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS