Recently released body cam video shows a 15-year-old special education student at Española Valley High School was tased by a Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Deputy on May 10 for allegedly failing to comply with a search.
Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Barnes deployed the Taser in the student’s chest area, which the manufacturer warns can induce cardiac arrest or death.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas opened a probe into the incident on May 29, he said on Wednesday.
“Schools should be a place where students feel safe and protected,” Balderas wrote in a statement.
“I am aggressively investigating the disturbing incident.”
Barnes arrives at Dean of Students Alex Rosa’s office and the student, who asked not to be identified, can be seen sitting in the chair.
A security guard tells Barnes that the student swung his backpack at one of the security guards, although it’s not clear whether or not any contact was made.
“Slammed you with a backpack; that’s not a big deal,” Barnes says.
The security guard says the student was refusing to submit to a search.
“Oh, he’s refusing, that’s fine,” Barnes says.
“I’ll put his little ass in handcuffs and take him to Santa Fe.”
Barnes then orders the student to stand up.
The student complies, standing up and turning around to reach his hand back toward Barnes so he can be cuffed.
Barnes asks the student if he’s going to be cooperative.
“What do you think I’m dong?” he asks, turning to look at Barnes.
Barnes tells him to turn around.
The student steps away and calls Barnes a derogatory name.
Barnes grabs the student, slamming him face-down onto a desk.
Jack Romero, a security guard sitting in a chair, struggles with Romero.
“I’m going to f—ing tase you,” Barnes yells.
Footage shows the student sitting and struggling with Romero when his shirt comes over his head.
“Tase him! Tase him! Tase him!” Romero yells.
“Less than four seconds after warning he was going to tase him, Barnes shoots the student with the taser in his upper left chest area.
The student screams and tries to get up as Barnes continues to cycle though the taser.
In total, three cycles of electric shocks were used on the boy, who was face down on t he ground with Romero’s knee placed in the back of his head and neck.
“Put your hands behind your back,” Barnes says.
“Ow, ow, ow,” the boy repeats as Barnes cuffs him while Romero holds him on the ground.
“Comply right now! Stop resisting! That’s it!” Romero tells the student.
“Please stop, please.”
Barnes contacted 911 dispatchers, reporting a taser had been deployed and requesting an ambulance.
“Ow, that hurt so much,” the student says.
Romero replies that the student should have complied.
“What do you mean,” the boy asks.
A woman in the background says something regarding the boy’s “attitude” and the student replies, saying something about his belt.
Barnes searches the student’s pockets.
“No, because I can articulate,” he says. “No, this is called a wax pen.”
The student says he was only holding a pencil, but admits something that can’t be seen in the video belongs to him.
“Please. Take off my belt. Everything is in my shorts. I don’t even have anything bad.”
Barnes then answers a call.
“Hey LT, I tased a student, I tried restraining him, they were engaged in a drug exchange, and then he started resisting, started fighting with the security guard,” he says.
“I asked him to comply . . . comply, so I tased him.”
The student complains about pain, saying it feels like Barnes stabbed him in the heart and that the taser prongs hurt.
“It’s pain compliance,” Barnes replies.
“It’s not going to kill you.”
Shannon Kennedy of the Kennedy and Ives Law Firm is representing the student and his family and says she has sent notice of tort claims to the sheriff’s office and the district, according to the Rio Grande Sun.