Lincoln HS Fight Prompts Complaints at SDUSD Board Meeting

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said surveillance video of the incident will not be released at this point

The fallout from a fight at Lincoln High School continued Tuesday night at the San Diego Unified School District’s board meeting. Several angry parents and community members said they feel like they're not getting the full story.

A fight broke out between two male students at the school on Imperial Avenue during Friday's lunch break and ended up in a parking garage.

No weapons were involved, according to San Diego Unified School District officials. Somehow, the violence escalated to the point that a school officer used his Taser on a 16-year-old student and used pepper spray on several other students.

Officer Bashir Abdi was sent to the hospital with head injuries. He was released over the weekend, but when he returns, he will be placed on administrative duty, officials announced.

One student was arrested and may face charges of assaulting a police officer. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Tuesday she could not yet release surveillance video which might answer an important question: what really happened.

Several speakers during public comment at Tuesday's board meeting stood up for the arrested student.

"He was tazed. That is an act of violence, and multiple students were pepper sprayed indiscriminately. That is unacceptable and something we cannot stand for,” said Kim Moore, a community member who lives near the school.

“This officer, he shall not return to Lincoln, he should not, he shall not. I ask for his removal from that school and that he never return," said Cindy Burrows, a parent of two Lincoln students.

NBC 7 has reached out to Abdi, but we have not heard back from him.

Others took the opportunity to talk about what they perceive as a bigger problem at the school.

Some blamed over-policing, district policy, media portrayal of Lincoln, and the so-called "preschool to prison pipeline" for failing to make the school a more positive place.

"If you walk around Lincoln High School and then go walk around Donovan go walk around all of those prisons in Otay, they look the same," said one speaker.

But others feel the conversation is already drifting.

“We should not use this moment as an opportunity to bash Lincoln, the faculty of Lincoln or the faculty of the San Diego Unified School District," said Reverend Shane Harris with the National Action Network San Diego.

“The concerns are not falling on deaf ears,” said Vernon Moore, San Diego Unified School District’s Executive Director of Youth Advocacy. “This is all part of our plan to engage the community and ensure Lincoln High School and all of our schools are safe." 

The student arrested Friday was still detained at juvenile hall as of Tuesday night’s meeting, but a hearing Wednesday morning could determine if he faces charges and if the surveillance video of the incident can be released.

In a letter to SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten, Dumanis gave this explanation for not releasing video of the incident at this time: 

"The SDPD and the DA’s Office are working diligently to review all the evidence including video evidence to ensure that justice is done for all parties. You expressed your interest in releasing the surveillance video from the school to the public as quickly as possible. The surveillance video is one of the pieces of evidence in the criminal investigation of the incident. Since several minors are involved, the Juvenile Court would have jurisdiction for the case. The potential release of any video evidence is dependent on the type of charges and how juvenile law applies to those potential charges. There is a detention hearing scheduled before a Juvenile Court Judge on Wednesday, March 2 that will allow us to clarify some of the legal and privacy issues involved in the release of the surveillance video. For these reason, you may not release the surveillance video at this time. We will continue to promptly update you regarding the status of the video and all other relevant matters in this case."

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