A video posted online appears to show a police officer tackling a young man at Keene High School last week, capturing a use of force that Keene Police Chief Steven Russo said is in compliance with the department’s policies and procedures.
In a news release Monday afternoon, Russo said an individual, caught vaping in a school bathroom, refused to identify himself to Officer Josh English and made attempts to resist detention. English, a Keene police officer, is assigned to the high school as its resource officer.
“During this encounter, the individual verbally and physically resisted multiple attempts by Officer English to detain and identify him in conjunction with a tobacco law violation,” Russo wrote. “The underlying offense is not as important as the fact that the individual’s actions were out of the ordinary under such circumstance: he refused to identify himself to Officer English, and he made several attempts to escape detention through physical resistance as he continued to move through the school.”
The 15-second video shows a young man stepping quickly into a hallway, followed immediately by a uniformed police officer who tackles him from behind. There’s a brief struggle on the floor as the officer gains control of the young man, then pulls him up, after which the video ends.
The news release does not say whether the person was a student and whether he was arrested.
The N.H. Union Leader first reported the video Sunday. A user named MikeysGaming posted the video to YouTube on Thursday, but it does not indicate when it was recorded. Russo said in the news release that the incident occurred Thursday.
Russo said the department reviewed the incident. “Officer English’s response was determined to be within KPD policy and procedure, and in compliance with the New Hampshire Use of Force Statute,” he said in the news release.
N.H. School Administrative Unit 29 Superintendent Robert Malay said in a statement Monday:
“The Keene School District is aware of the incident that took place on October 31, 2019 involving our School Resource Officer. We have been working closely with our law enforcement partners who evaluated the entire situation to determine the appropriateness of the use of force. The safety of our students, employees and visitors to our schools has been and continues to be a top priority of the Keene School District and the Keene Police Department.”
George Downing, chairman of the Keene Board of Education, declined to comment because he had not yet seen the results of the police department’s review.
English has been with the Keene Police Department for more than 15 years, according to the release.