Things That Matter

This Officer Attacked A Student For Taking Too Many Milks And Now He’s Been Forced To Resign

Following the release of footage showing a school resource officer wrestling and restraining an 11-year-old girl in tears, the officer has resigned. The video sparked national outrage about the use of excessive force on a child. 

According to Vox, on August 27 at Messa View Middle School in New Mexico, Zachary Christensen of the Farmington Police Department pushed the 11-year-old girl into the side of the school building causing her to slam to the ground in an attempt to force the girl’s arm’s behind her. 

Footage shows what many believe to be the use of excessive force.

A recording of the officer’s conduct was captured through his bodycam after it fell on the ground. In the video, the girl can be heard crying and begging the officer to let her go. Christensen screams at her, “stop resisting.” 

“I’m not resisting,” the sixth-grader says. “Get off of me — you’re hurting me.”

Christensen alleges that the girl violated the rules after she stood on a school bus, took “too many” milk cartons at the school cafeteria, and picked at a sign that was taped to a door. The former resource officer also falsely claimed that she assaulted the school principal. 

The video shows school officials intervene to try to stop the officer. He refuses.

In the video, the officer continues to wrestle with the girl despite warnings from school officials who say it is unnecessary. 

“She is not a threat to yourself or others at this moment,” a school official says in the video. “You are not going to use excessive force to get this done.” 

Christensen responds by saying, “we’re not excessive,” as he holds the girl down to the ground. 

A longer video shows the officer falsely accusing the 11-year-old girl of assault. 

The police department released a longer, 77-minute, video of the body camera footage. In the video, Christensen is heard recalling the 11-year-old girl’s recent antics like disrupting class and standing on the bus. It also shows the officer accusing the student of assaulting him and other school staff. The Washington Post says an internal investigation found his claims to be false.  

In another moment, Christensen is seen following the student who he says is, “refusing to do anything that anyone says” and that “this has been an ongoing issue.” He is heard asking for approval to detain the student, saying, “then I can put her in handcuffs.” 

When he and the principal found the 11-year-old picking at a sign on the taped door, he threatened to arrest her.

“If you destroy it, it’s called criminal damage to property,” he said, yelling at her, in the footage. “I’m going to charge you with criminal damage to property. Yeah, you’re going to go to jail for 50 cents. Yeah, plus resisting, plus disrupting the education process.”

Christensen seemingly lost it on the child when she swept away the principal’s hand from a door. 

“You’re not going to assault the principal,” Christensen said as he shoved her against the building. He wrestled with her for almost three minutes before letting her go. 

The police department says they will take disciplinary action against Christensen. 

Farmington Police Chief Steven Hebbe says the girl suffered a mild concussion as well as scrapes and bruises. 

“Like many of you, I was shocked and angry when I watched this video,” Hebbe said in a statement. “We value our relationship with our community and will continue to work hard to maintain the public’s confidence in our department.”

Christensen resigned after an internal investigation determined he did not comply with standard policies. He was slapped with two violations including “unsatisfactory performance” and “violating use of force policy.” The department also reassigned and demoted Christensen’s supervisor. 

The girl’s family takes legal action.

The girl’s family has hired attorney Mark Curnutt to initiate legal action against the school and the City of Farmington. They believe the video footage disproves the officer’s accusations that the 11-year-old committed any crimes. 

“She’s an 11-year-old girl and it’s a shock to the system to see that this is a thing that can occur at a school by a certified peace officer,” Curnutt said. “When you have a situation where there’s a report that says a felony is committed, another felony is committed, another felony is committed — and then you review the factual documentation you have of that through the video and it doesn’t add up, there must be a level of accountability.”

While the officer has not been criminally charged, his case has been referred to the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office where he could face potential charges. 

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Mexican Army Wants To Pay Off Murder Victim’s Family With One Million Pesos In Cash

Things That Matter

Mexican Army Wants To Pay Off Murder Victim’s Family With One Million Pesos In Cash

The family of a man who was shot in the back and killed by a Mexican soldier is demanding better support from the Mexican military after officials offer them one million pesos, or about $49,000 USD.

Officials say that the Guatemalan man was in retreat from a military checkpoint near the southern border, when they admit that a soldier wrongfully shot at the man killing him.

Military officials are offering $1 million pesos to family of the Guatemalan man the army murdered.

The Mexican Army is offering 1 million pesos (about $49,000 USD) in compensation to the family of a Guatemalan man who was shot and killed by a Mexican soldier along a stretch of Mexico’s southern border.

The man, Elvin Mazariegos, 30, was killed by the army in the state of Chiapas by a soldier who opened fire on a car in which he was traveling with two other people.

According to Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval, the soldier shot at the vehicle as it tried to escape in reverse from a military checkpoint. He said the decision to shoot was an “erroneous reaction” because the military personnel hadn’t come under attack. The solider who shot Elvin Mazariegos was turned over to the federal Attorney General’s Office.

The family is asking for more support since Mazariegos was the family’s sole income earner.

Olga Mazariegos told the newspaper Reforma that the Mexican army had offered a single 1-million-peso payment to her brother’s family. But the family is also demanding monthly maintenance payments for Mazariego’s daughters, aged 9 and 5, and 2-year-old son, she said. She said their father was the sole income earner in his family.

“What we want is monthly maintenance, but they say that they’ll only give [a single payment of] approximately half a million quetzales,” Mazariegos said. At today’s exchange rate, 1 million pesos is in fact 377,300 quetzales.

The slain man’s sister said the army’s proposed payment will be insufficient for the man’s widow to maintain her family. “She’s left alone with her three children; what happened to my brother is not fair,” she said, adding that it was insulting for the army to say that his life was worth 1 million pesos.

Mazariegos murder comes as police brutality gains greater attention across Mexico.

Credit: PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Residents near the border (including Guatemalans) have demanded justice. About 300 angry residents detained 15 other soldiers also deployed near the border. Nine soldiers were released about three hours after they were detained, while the others were set free in the early hours of Tuesday morning after Mexican officials reached a deal with the civilians to provide them with “economic reparation” for the killing. The army chief didn’t reveal how much money was paid to the angry residents.

The killing of Mazariegos came just two days after the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested by municipal police in Tulum, Quintana Roo.

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Police In Tulum Killed A Refugee By Kneeling On Her Neck And Mexicans Want Justice

Things That Matter

Police In Tulum Killed A Refugee By Kneeling On Her Neck And Mexicans Want Justice

So many of those attempting to reach the United States – or even Mexico in some cases – are already fleeing extreme violence, poverty, and fear. Refugees from Honduras and El Salvador (among other countries) are hoping to find a better life faraway from the corruption and danger that they face in their home countries.

But what happens when those same people fleeing violence in their home countries are met with state-sponsored violence on their journey to a better life? Unfortunately, at least one refugee, 36-year-old Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a mother of two teenage daughters, has lost her life while hoping for a better one.

Four police officers are in custody after the killing of a woman from El Salvador.

Four municipal police officers are in custody and under investigation for murder following the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested in Tulum.

Video footage shows a female officer with her knee on the back of 36-year-old Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a mother of two teenage daughters who was living in Tulum on a humanitarian visa.

In the footage, Victoria, who was apparently arrested for disturbing the peace, can be heard moaning in pain and is seen writhing on the road next to a police vehicle as she was held down for more than 20 seconds. Three male police are also present, one of whom appears to help the female offer restrain Victoria. Footage then shows officers drag her limp body into the back of a police truck.

Many are comparing Victoria’s murder to that of George Floyd.

Many in Mexico are comparing Victoria’s death to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer, who also died pinned under an officer’s knee. Video shared on social media shows a police officer leaning on Salazar’s head and neck and she cries out, and then goes limp. Officers then drag her body into the back of a police truck.

Mexican officials have largely condemned the officers’ actions and the Attorney General said that the officers — three men and one woman — will be charged with femicide. The charge of femicide carries a penalty of no less than 40 years in prison. The police actions violated the national law on the use of force, the Attorney General’s Office said. 

Victoria’s death comes as millions of Mexican women demand that the authorities do more to combat gender violence in Mexico, where an average of 11 women are killed every day. Her alleged murder also occurred as Mexican authorities ramp up enforcement against mainly Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.

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