Former school resource officer Zachary Christensen has resigned from the Farmington, New Mexico Police Department aafter his body cam footage revealed he slammed an 11-year-old girl to the ground while nearby school officials demanded he release her.
Christensen confronted the girl—who was accused of being disruptive in class and taking an extra milk at lunch—with school administrators in an apparent attempt to get her to comply with school rules.
When the child pushed past the school principal, Christensen accused her of assault and moved to restrain her. This was likely the source of his later claim, which was found to be untrue during an internal investigation, that she had assaulted the principal before he used force.
Just before taking physical action against the student, Christensen can be heard saying:
“OK, I’ve had enough of this. Take your bag off. You’re done. You are done. … You’re not going to assault the principal.”
When the school administrators who were present repeatedly asked Christensen to allow the girl to stand, he refused. An adult can be heard demanding Christensen not use excessive force to subdue the child.
“We are not going to use excessive force to get this done.”
His response, while the child cried for help, was that he was not being excessive.
The full 1 hour and 17 minute video of the entire interaction between Christensen and the girl was posted on the Farmington Police Department’s YouTube channel.
The unit supervisor who was responsible for overseeing Christensen also failed to identify the incident as unacceptable and a violation of department policies. According to a video put out by the Farmington Police Department, that individual has since been reassigned and is no longer in a supervisory role within the department.
That video also details multiple changes the department is making to ensure that such an incident never happens again. The case has been referred to the New Mexico State Police for a review of possible charges against Christensen.
Near the end of the department’s video, Chief Hebbe comments on the incident and how it made him feel.
“Like many of you, I was shocked and angry when I watched this video. There’s no excuse for the way this girl was treated. As the chief of police I am extremely disappointed that we failed to perform at our expected standards.”
That full video from Police Chief Hebbe can be seen below.
Chief Hebbe told the Farmington Daily Times that the girl suffered a mild concussion, in addition to scrapes and bruises from the incident.
Many folks on social media were upset by the incident.
If the police had seen a grown man doing that to an 11 year old girl, he would have been arrested for assault. Instead of resigning he should have been arrested on the spot. How come this always happened to African Americans? #PoliceViolenceAgainstChildren
— WeAreThe99% (@letsliveinpeace) October 23, 2019
An 11 year old girl. Think about that.
— Smitty Smitty (@MdSnakeheadz) October 23, 2019
No girl should EVER in her LIFE have to experience ANY MAN doing that to her. What man thinks that is appropriate treatment for a CHILD? Not someone who belongs in her life in any way whatsoever. My God, what kind of police training is done these days?
— Olivers Mum katharine (@OlAndrewsMum) October 25, 2019
I can’t imagine this man was raised to treat little girls like this. What is it about the police training methods that cause a grown man to have a power trip because a kid isn’t listening to him
— Ryan Mayo (@young_maymay) October 23, 2019
Some tried to claim that the girl was at fault and should have simply complied, but folks weren’t having any of that.
When someone is this poorly trained and this out of control, “COMPLY” is not the solution.
Did you hear the principal repeatedly tell him to stop?
It’s grotesque that you are so obedient to power that you are okay with this.
— BooMcScreamy (@DrewMcWeeny) October 23, 2019
this is like every single one of these videos too. they yell out constantly changing conflicting commands while physically keeping the person from complying with any of them. They think they can just yell stop resisting as an excuse to act out their adrenalined up cop fantasies.
— birdy sandwiches (@Pjevica) October 24, 2019
The department is making efforts to ensure no other children are harmed by their officers, but an incident like this should never have occurred in the first place. An 11-year-old girl being non-compliant with school officials is not sufficient reason for a grown police officer to slam her into a wall and then pin her to the ground.
Many folks felt that someone who reacts this way to a misbehaving child should never have made it through the screening process to become a police officer at all, let alone been assigned as a school resource officer.