Charges against teenagers involved in a fight on the campus of Lincoln High School should be dropped until the campus surveillance video is made public, according to the NAACP’s San Diego Chapter.
“This incident happened in a public school and the public deserves to know what happened to its children in this public space,” said NAACP President Dr. Andre Branch.
A San Diego Unified School District police officer was severely injured Feb. 26 in a fight on the campus located 5 miles east of downtown.
The brawl started when a group of students were "play fighting" outside the gym, prosecutors said.
Officer Bashir Abdi saw one minor had a bloody head, so he followed the student into the parking garage to render medical aid, according to San Diego Unified School District officials.
At that point an altercation occurred between Officer Abdi and a 16-year-old student.
"The minor increased his aggression toward the officer, punched him six or seven times; while he was being attacked from the front, another minor hit the officer from the back, knocking him down to the ground," Deputy District Attorney Minaz Bhayani said in a previous interview.
One minor student faces a felony assault on a police officer charge after allegedly hitting Abdi many times in the back of the head. The case is still under investigation.
Another student, a 17-year-old senior who is a member of the school’s basketball team, also faces charges of assault on a police officer, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, violently resisting a police officer and assault on a school officer. He’s also accused of stealing a patrol radio and patrol keys, jumping a fence and then hiding those items in a backpack somewhere in the neighborhood.
The officer used a Taser on the 16-year-old during the incident.
Abdi lost consciousness and suffered a concussion. Five students were taken to a hospital for exposure to pepper spray.
NBC 7 has requested school surveillance video of the altercation. A judge has issued a protective order on the video.
Now, local members of the NAACP argue the school district police had jurisdiction over the entire incident and if the district had wanted to release the surveillance video, they could have.
Branch highlighted how the district has long operated with an independent police force.
The department investigates its own cases and has jurisdiction for most crimes that happen on campuses within the state’s second largest school district.
Branch said until the video is released, no further punitive actions should be taken against the students arrested after the brawl.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said based on the evidence and the severity of the injuries to the police officer, the charges against the minors are appropriate.
SDUSD cannot release the video to the public because of the ongoing investigation, according to the DA’s Office.
Branch said the district acted prejudicially by involving the outside San Diego Police Department.
“It has not completed a criminal investigation and therefore referring this matter to the District Attorney is premature and prejudicial toward the students concerned,” Branch said Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for San Diego Unified School District said San Diego Police originally became involved in the incident because the school officer put out a radio call for “officer down” and “office needs assistance.”
At that point, every officer in the area who could respond did, regardless of jurisdiction.
NBC 7 San Diego is not identifying the teens involved as they are minors and are not being charged as adults.