An advocacy group representing public school students in Philadelphia criticized a local police officer for allegedly causing one student to suffer a concussion in an encounter over a pass to the bathroom.
According to Philadelphia magazine, the Philadelphia Students Union (PSU) also accused Officer Jeff Maciocha of ordering a witness to delete video capturing his encounter with union member Brian Burney.
A spokesperson for the local school district, Fernando Gallard, said Burney, a senior at Benjamin Franklin High School, encountered Maciocha on May 5 while trying to use a restroom. However, the school’s bathrooms are locked and can only be opened by a faculty member or school officer like Maciocha after a student gives them a pass. Burney did not have a pass with him at the time.
The union said in a statement that Burney threw an orange against the wall after the two got into an argument.
“[Maciocha] retaliated by punching him twice in the face, slamming him down and began choking him. Many students gathered around and yelled at the officer to get off of Brian,” the statement read. “Another student at the school began recording Brian, who was in a chokehold. While recording the video, the student was told to delete the footage or be at risk of arrest.”
At that point, the union said, an unidentified teacher took the witness’ phone and deleted the video. The PSU did, however, post a 13-second clip showing Maciocha grabbing Burney from behind and ordering him to put his hands behind his back.
Gallard said that Maciocha was using a “restraining hold” against Burney and not choking him. He also accused the student of escalating the confrontation and hitting his own forehead on the ground.
“He became very angry and began to call the police officer racial slurs,” Gallard said of Burney. “He was using vulgar language and profanity, and then he threw an orange at the head of the police officer. And then, he started to advance toward the police officer.”
The PSU said in its statement that officers have subsequently harassed both Burney’s mother and his uncle.
“The Philadelphia Student Union also stands with Brian. Incidences like this are why the Philadelphia Student Union exists, to fight for the rights of students, many of which have been violated for decades,” the union said.
Watch footage of the incident, as posted online, below.
[h/t The Free Thought Project]