Cops Break Saggin’ Sophomore’s Arm and Taser Him

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Two Derby, Kansas police officers, acting as school resource officers, ordered Jonathan Villarreal, 17, to pull his pants above his waist. Jonathan was walking with friends to the bus after school let out, and he told the officers he would wear his pants how he wanted. According to Jonathan, one of the officers pulled him to the ground and both officers kneed him in the back and neck. During the struggle, Jonathan’s arm was broken and he was tased.

The officers handcuffed him until paramedics ordered the cuffs removed. Jonathan was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was treated and released.

The police claim that Villarreal used profanities when officer asked him to pull up his pants. The officers tried to escort Villarreal back inside the school, but he refused to go.

Derby Police Chief Robert Lee said his department will investigate to see if the use of force was appropriate.

If the police officers have nothing better to do than to enforce dress codes after school is out, maybe their presence and corresponding expense are unnecessary. The police should be there to respond to criminal conduct or imminent danger, school officials should be enforcing dress codes.

This is an example of the School-to-Prison Pipeline, wherein minor offenses are dealt with using the juvenile and criminal justice system. Often these minor offense escalate due to over aggressive policing. The blame for this situation lies squarely with school officials. They seem more interested in preserving their authority than in providing an educational opportunity for every child. Challenging authority is a virtue, not a vice. This country was founded on the restriction of authority and the celebration of the individual.

Being arrested nearly doubles the odds that a child will drop out of school, and if there is a court appearance, the odds are nearly quadrupled. Disproportionately, it kids of color who are victims of these police tactics.

H/T: ACLU, The Wichita Eagle.

60 thoughts on “Cops Break Saggin’ Sophomore’s Arm and Taser Him”

  1. anyone walks up to someone else and tells them how to wear their clothes deserves to hear profanity.
    how would the officers have reacted if mr. villarreal walked up to them and began commenting on their clothes or general appearance.

    and race has nothing to do with it. what was the police chiefs name again?

  2. Woosty,
    We had cops in our high school back in the late 60’s. Here in Illinois almost every public high school has at least one police officer on duty.

  3. Woosty, many schools have on duty cops…they call them resource officers..In the St Louis area..Parkway has them and my brother in law a county cop with almost 30 years is a resource officer in the Eureka district.. Those are both very affluent school districts in the St Louis area.. So this is not only an inner city war zone type environment.

  4. To Woosty’s still a Cat,

    After Columbine, and other instances of campus violence, parents started demanding that School Boards do more to secure the safety of their children. An on-duty School Resource Officer is only one of the many practices employed by responsible School Boards in response to parental concerns and demands.

  5. Elaine M.
    1, May 7, 2011 at 10:30 am

    “…but there is a point that was crossed waaaay before this confrontation that would be interesting to know about.’-Woosty

    If there was a point that was crossed way before this confrontation–as you suggest–then it would appear that it was the police who instigated the problem in regard to this incident.

    Elaine, I was referring to my wondering why it is Police that are needed on campus. That to me espeaks an environment that is no stranger to violence or the threat there-of…or maybe the zeitgeist of fear is so igrained in this country that there no longer needs to be that threat for Policing to be accepted as normal. I agree with you, there are better ways to handle these kids and thier problems…(ways that currently are most probably underfunded…), but there are other kids in the schools too, that don’t do well in an environment that resembles a war zone. This is 1 incident and at face value it may look cut and dried to many here…but I would need much more information to feel comfortable pointing a finger… (and 17year old boys…they are quite often trouble magnets who can often be better served learning who NOT to piss off….)

  6. To Elaine M.,

    If the young man had pulled his jeans low on his hips after leaving school, as you noted in an earlier post, the existence of a dress code may be the reason.

    If there is a contract between the School Board and the Police Department, as most school insurers demand, the duties and responsibilities of the school resource officers should be listed. If no such contract exists, the School board may be in a precarious position.

  7. thegeolady,

    I’ll draw your attention to a link I posted in an earlier comment. My comment included the following excerpt:

    From the School-to-Prison Pipeline link:

    The ACLU’s Racial Justice Program is committed to challenging the “school to prison pipeline,” a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out. “Zero-tolerance” policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while high-stakes testing programs encourage educators to push out low-performing students to improve their schools’ overall test scores. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline.

    The ACLU believes that children should be educated, not incarcerated. We are working to challenge numerous policies and practices within public school systems and the juvenile justice system that contribute to the school to prison pipeline.


    “Kids that drop out are usually kids that have problems…”

    There are reasons WHY some kids have “problems.” Our educators, school administrators, police, social service workers should all be working to address the problems…and the causes of those problems. Children aren’t born troubled. Bad/negative life experiences are responsible for their problems.

  8. Jim M.,

    The school may have had a dress code–but I don’t recall reading anything about it in the article. That said, one would have to question whether one of the police officers’ responsibilities was to enforce a dress code–if the school did indeed have one.

  9. “I always figured the police patrolling schools had better things to do like making sure kids are in a safe environment.”
    – Stamford Liberal

    There you go…

    And I know plenty of good kids who have “dropped out”…

  10. Elaine M,

    “School had been dismissed. I don’t see what right the police officer had to demand that the young man pull up his pants when he was on his way to the bus. The police may be stationed outside that school in order to troubleshoot problems if they should arise. I don’t think they should be there to tell kids how to dress once they are on their own time.”

    Well said, Ms. Elaine.

    Living in an urban area and next to a high school, I see kids – of all stripes, whether they be black, white, hispanic, etc., from the projects and from the richer neighborhoods – dress like this all the time both in and out of school. Authorities rather focus their energies on what kids do in school and ensuring they see it through the full four years, then rag on them about their pants.

    I think in this case, the actions of the police further cements the stereotypes minorities have regarding police and how they treat different ethinicities. Congrats …

    If a district has a dress-code while in school, fine. What they were outside of school isn’t a schools concern and certainly shouldn’t be a concern for police. I always figured the police patrolling schools had better things to do like making sure kids are in a safe environment. Apparently not enough in Kansas …

  11. “good” kids don’t drop out.”

    Please define good kids? Perhaps you mean those with affluence and/or white skin, going to well-funded schools?

    As far as this incident, the whole idea of dress codes is an absurd
    notion rooted in the need for certain individuals who have difficulty with their own severe repression of their own feelings. They then need to control others behavior to ensure that they don’t burst out of their straightjackets.

  12. “Being arrested nearly doubles the odds that a child will drop out of school”

    uh, no, being arrested doesn’t cause kids to drop out. There may be a correlation between the 2, but that’s NOT the same as a cause.
    Kids that drop out are usually kids that have problems – “good” kids don’t drop out.

  13. To Elaine M.,

    In that case, as long as he was still on school property, the dress codes are applicable giving the officers a certain amount of legal cover.

    The young man’s parents may wish to check with the School Board for a contract between themselves and the Police Department outlining the responsibilities and duties of the Officers who serve as school resource officers. Most school insurance companies demand such a contract as the School Boards, in most jurisdictions, pay the officers who serve in that capacity.

  14. anon nurse,

    “Love and respect worked wonders …”

    Yes indeed.

    Brutality happens when the souls of policemen become bankrupt of love and respect, which is also part of our law and culture.

  15. Isn’t it amazing how YouTube has changed the face of law enforcement? Many agencies now want to make it a criminal offense to video their actions, even out in the open in a public place. One has to wonder why? Hmmmmmm….. -OS

    Yes. (Thanks for that, OS.)

    They tape us, we tape them. It’s that simple, IMHO. (“Justifiable force” indeed..)

  16. And in other news of the day, a headline from Daily Kos:

    “Phoenix Police Officer Body Slams Girl – No action taken until video appears on Youtube”

    Isn’t it amazing how YouTube has changed the face of law enforcement? Many agencies now want to make it a criminal offense to video their actions, even out in the open in a public place. One has to wonder why? Hmmmmmm…..

  17. Jim,

    “Presumably the young man had been in school all day with his pants worn in the manner the officers found objectionable which renders mute the issue of dress codes.”

    According to the newspaper article, the young man said he pulled his pants down after he left school for the day.

  18. Presumably the young man had been in school all day with his pants worn in the manner the officers found objectionable which renders mute the issue of dress codes.

    That the young man refused to allow himself to be removed from public view speaks well of his intelligence even if his attire points to a certain amount of rebellion within his nature.

    For insurance purposes the School Board may wish to erect warning signs stating they are not responsible for police lawlessness on their property.

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