Nevada officer slams student recording police
LAS VEGAS >> A school police officer in Las Vegas was captured on cellphone video last week slamming a high school student to the ground and pinning him underneath his knee, prompting an investigation and renewed calls from Nevada activists who want to see police removed from schools and more resources for students.
The Clark County School District Police Department said the Feb. 9 encounter outside Durango High School in suburban Las Vegas unfolded while officers were investigating a report of a firearm near the campus, but school officials have not released further information, including whether a weapon was found.
District Police Chief Mike Blackeye said in a statement Wednesday that the officer was reassigned to other duties pending the outcome of the investigation into his actions, and Superintendent Jesus Jara said he has called for a “complete review” of the police department’s use of force policy.
The department has not released body camera or dashboard camera videos of the incident, nor has it released the name of the officer. But the local NAACP chapter, in a statement Wednesday calling for the officer’s termination, identified him as Lt. Jason Elfberg.
“The video circulating on the internet made my stomach turn,” said Quentin Savwoir, president of the Las Vegas NAACP branch. “Our scholars deserve to be safe and free from the threat of violence from those entrusted to protect them.”
More than 50 people protested Friday evening at the Clark County School District administrative building, calling for police reform within schools and seeking additional disciplinary action to be taken against Elfberg and other officers. Demonstrators chanted “racist Jason must be terminated” and carried posters condemning systemic racism.
Elfberg’s attorney, Adam Levine, confirmed his client’s involvement in the encounter and told The Associated Press that he is confident that the investigation will clear Elfberg of any wrongdoing.
“The worst thing anybody can do is pre-judge us before the investigation is complete,” Levine said as he urged the public to “let the investigative process take its full course.” The school district and its police department have not responded to requests for additional information from The Associated Press, including how long Elfberg has been employed and whether he has a disciplinary record.
Public posts on the police department’s Facebook page show Elfberg was promoted last month from sergeant to lieutenant.
The video circulating on social media begins with several district police officers detaining two students as another student walks by recording with his cellphone when Elfberg yells to the student, “You want next, dude?”
The student backs away, lowering his phone, before Elfberg is seen shoving him to the ground next to a patrol vehicle, its lights flashing red and blue. Students in the background can be heard yelling to the officer, “You can’t have him on the ground like that!”
The officer kneels on the student’s back as he lies face-down on the pavement, keeping his knee there until the video ends about 30 seconds later. At one point, the student can be heard asking his friends to call his mother.