The Farmington Police Department released body camera footage of an incident from Aug. 27, 2019, at Mesa View Middle School. In it, you see school resource Officer Zach Christensen push an 11-year-old student to the ground and restrain her. She can be heard crying loudly, and repeatedly telling the officer that he was hurting her.
“For me personally, this was spectacularly disappointing,” said Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe.
The video was turned over for an internal investigation. Christensen claims he thought he witnessed the student assault the school principal.
“There was no assault, and there is certainly nothing that would have needed us to move in and begin getting physical,” Hebbe said.
The 90-minute video shows school administrators and Christensen following the student around, trying to get her to listen to their repeated requests to sit-down and talk with them. They can be heard discussing her constant disruptive behavior throughout the video.
Once the incident turned physical, the school administrators tried to get Christensen to stop.
“Officer Christensen, she is not a threat to yourself or others at this moment,” said one administrator.
Eventually, the girl’s mother comes to pick her up. Christensen reported the incident that day, and the internal review process began. He resigned on Oct. 1, 2019, after 11 years with the department. Four of them were spent at Mesa View Middle School.
“We are not pledging that we are going to be a perfect department, but we are going to be a department that reacts when we make mistakes and owns those mistakes,” said Hebbe.
He said the department would be reviewing its policies.
Hebe said New Mexico State Police reviewed the footage and recommended the officer not face any criminal charges. The case has been turned over to the San Juan District Attorney’s Office.
Hebbe said he reviewed the footage with the student and her mom.
[via KOAT Action 7 News]