High School Security Guards Accused of Excessive Force
PALMDALE, Sept. 26, 2007 (KABC-TV) (KABC) -- Three teens and a mother are arrested after a scuffle with security guards at Knight High School in Palmdale. An investigation is underway as to whether excessive force was used by the guards.
One of the students arrested caught the whole thing on video. The incident was instigated over cake.
It was a birthday party at Knight High School in Palmdale. Early last week, during lunch hour, students say the cake dropped, and then everything else dropped. There was mayhem and chaos. On the heels of this incident, a group of parents and students plan to hold a protest on Friday.
This is exclusive video that a student at William P. Knight High School in East Palmdale used his cell phone to capture video of 16-year-old Pleajhia Mervin being arrested by campus police early last week.
Mervin says a security guard slammed her against a table at a lunchroom at the high school and twisted her arms behind her back so violently, he broke her wrist. Her wrist is in a cast.
"He put my arm behind my back and he started raising it until it hurt, so I told him, 'Stop, it hurts.' He had slammed me on the table and told me to hold still. He called me a 'nappy-head,' and that's when I just started crying," said Mervin.
Mervin claims she was roughed up simply because she failed to pick up every crumb of a birthday cake she accidentally dropped on the floor of the lunchroom during a lunch-hour birthday celebration for a friend. She says she thought she cleaned up the mess, but the security guard thought otherwise.
"He said, 'You have to come pick the rest of this cake up.' So I said, 'I picked it up.' He gets on his walkie-talkie, he got a call, so I just started walking to class, and that's when he grabbed me," said Mervin.
Mervin says when the security guard realized he was being videotaped, he tackled the student shooting the video. She says another student captured photographs of that incident. She says the whole incident was unnecessary.
"I think that he could have had a better way of cuffing me and throwing me on the table," said Mervin.
Mervin's mother, Latrisha Majors, said when she rushed to the school demanding to see her daughter, she was accused of battering the principal. She says she was then arrested and forced to spend the night in jail.
"This has caused such a disruption in my life," said Majors. "I try to explain this, but I can't. The 'nappy-head' thing, she doesn't understand that there is prejudice going on every day, all day long. It's not right.
School officials had this to say:
"Good afternoon. I can just comment we did have an incident at our school last week. However, I would like to emphasize that we do have a safe campus. I've been working with our staff, with my district office staff, community leaders, and parents, to ensure that we continue to keep our campus safe for all students, but I want people to know that our focus here is academic excellence for all students," said Dr. Susan McDonald, principal of Knight High School.
Pleajhia Mervin has been expelled from school. She will have to go to an expulsion hearing. She says she's even been accused of battering the security guard, and was ticketed for littering. Her mother says she has retained a lawyer from the Cochran firm and plans to sue the school district. A group of parents, students and community activists plan to protest outside the school on Friday morning.
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