Two police officers at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA&T) have been placed on indefinite administrative leave pending investigations after they were filmed forcefully arresting a student in a university dorm, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
The incident, which was shared on Twitter, shows the officers, who haven’t been named, trying to overpower the student – sophomore class president, Verdant Julius, while someone urges him to remain calm. During the struggle, one of the officers threatens to mase Julius if he resists.
Julius, who replies: “You’re honestly ridiculous”, can be seen being grabbed by the neck by the officer. After they forcefully got him on the ground, the other officer can also be seen pinning Julius’ head to the ground while he is handcuffed.
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He was charged with resist, delay or obstruct of a public officer and trespassing.
In the aftermath of the incident, a petition was launched by students calling on A&T Police Chief Charles Wilson to drop all charges against Julius, and to issue a statement “addressing and correcting the actions of the officers” and “establish a police review committee to review police hires and complaints.”
The petition has so far garnered over 7000 signatures.
The incident happened on March 18 at the McCain Residence Hall where Julius was with two of his friends, who are all students of the university. According to the petition, students were ordered to evacuate campus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Adhering to directives from authorities, Julius and his friends offered to help each other pack their stuff in their dorm rooms.
While at the dorm, Julius and his friends were approached by the officers who requested them to show their student IDs. After complying, they were also requested to swipe the IDs into the residence hall as a measure to further confirm they were indeed students of the university.
Despite complying with the officers’ directives, one of Julius’ friends, who is female, was told to leave because that wasn’t her resident hall. Julius asked for an explanation as to why his friend was ordered to leave but one of the officers replied and said: “If you take one step closer I am going to have you arrested for obstruction of an investigation.”
Julius and his friends did not even know an investigation was ongoing, the petition said. While still trying to get clarifications on what was happening, one of the officers “suddenly and violently attempted” to arrest Julius.
“As shown in the video of the arrest, Verdant Julius posed no threat to the campus security guard or the police officer and was not resisting arrest,” the petition said, adding that “No college student deserves this type of abuse and harassment from campus security guards or local police officers on their college campus — especially during a global pandemic.”
The officers involved in the incident were placed on indefinite administrative leave Wednesday, a statement from A&T police said, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
“University administrators are evaluating the matter in an effort to reach an appropriate resolution,” the statement said. “Further, we have met with the individual student, as well as Student Government Association leadership, to understand their concerns.”
“Be assured that the issue of campus safety is one of our top priorities and maintaining that safe environment requires the cooperation and understanding of every member of our community.”
This isn’t the first time an incident of such nature has occurred on the university’s campus. Last year, a campus security guard was caught on video punching a student at the student center, the Winston-Salem Journal further reports.
“The over-policing of Black students is an ongoing problem at many colleges and universities in the United States. It is outrageous and disappointing to witness this unnecessary use of force used on a student who was simply trying to go to his dorm room with friends and fellow students,” the petition said.
“Verdant Julius and the students of NCA&T deserve the rights and freedoms that should be afforded to all university students. They deserve to feel safe and protected on their campus.”