Oxnard Police Department – Incident Press Release
During the first week of this month, media outlets reported an incident involving an Oxnard Police Department School Resource Officer (“SRO”) arresting a 14 year-old female Hueneme High School student on the school’s campus. The incident occurred the previous week, on September 25, 2019. In the news stories, video footage from bystanders depicted the SRO and the female struggling during the arrest. The news stories also depict claims from the teenager that the officer used excessive force. This story has since spread onto social media.
“The bystander video footage is limited in its scope, depicts only a small portion of what actually happened. This can mislead the audience,” said Oxnard Assistant Police Chief Jason Benites. “Unfortunately, when partial information quickly spreads across television and social media, it can easily contribute to a damaging false narrative. The messages from last week’s incident at Hueneme High School are such a case.”
The Oxnard Police Department’s video from the officer’s body-worn camera depicts a more comprehensive situation that led to the encounter, includes the encounter in its entirety and disputes the allegations.
What happened: At approximately 3:20 PM on Wednesday, September 25, 2019, an Oxnard Police SRO was working at his assigned campus, Hueneme High School. The SRO and a campus administrator were monitoring the school’s dismissal and had seen a large group of students gathering on the campus. The SRO and the campus administrator saw two teenage female students engaged in a hostile verbal exchange. One of the females (the one that was ultimately arrested) was the primary aggressor.
The SRO requested that another school staff member take the aggressive student to the office, to discourage or prevent a fight. The administrator contacted the student, who refused to comply, and then turned away and walked off campus. After walking a short distance, the student reversed course and began to walk back.
Believing that the female was returning to start a confrontation, the SRO approached the female and said “Hi, come with me.” The female replied by saying “No no no no!” The SRO initiated a legal detention and placed her in a low-level compliance hold. He then began to escort her towards the school’s office. What followed was that the female became actively resistive, and grabbed the officer’s hand. The officer warned her, and her response included swearing and active physical resistance. The officer brought her to the ground. The teen then punched the officer several times, including his face, knocking off his sunglasses. The officer then placed her into handcuffs, as she was now under arrest.
The incident was also witnessed by several school staff members.
The teen was arrested for resisting/delaying a peace officer, as well as for misdemeanor battery on a peace officer. She was cited and released to her parents.
An Oxnard Police Department sergeant responded to the incident. This supervisor assessed the situation, including a review of the officer’s body-worn camera footage. The sergeant concluded that the officer’s actions were within policy. Since the news stories circulated, the department’s Professional Standards Division has reviewed this matter and concurs that the officer’s actions were within policy.
Assistant Chief Jason Benites: “The officer had a right to contact and detain this student, who was causing a disturbance on campus. The officer requested that the student come with him, and she resisted verbally, then physically. The officer used proper arrest and control techniques throughout the encounter, and exercised restraint despite being punched several times, including in his face.”
Police Chief Scott Whitney said, “Our officers have a tough job. We work closely with the schools to maintain safe campuses. This officer was trying to prevent a fight or other violence on the campus. This incident was properly handled by the officer.”