Three Chaparral High School employees have been granted immunity from a lawsuit relating to a 2013 incident that left a 15-year-old female student injured after she was allegedly thrown to the ground face-first while handcuffed by a campus police officer, according to a report from Courthouse News Service.
On March 2, 2013, student "Tasia" was escorted to assistant principal Jenee Littrell's office after a drug-sniffing dog had been deployed on the campus (her complaint does not specify whether or not the dog had alerted a presence of drugs on her person or in her possessions).
The plaintiff says that while Littrell was absent from the room, she attempted to use the office's phone to contact her mother. When Littrell returned with campus officer Leroy Jason Becker, provided to the district by the El Cajon Police Department, she demanded that the student hang up the phone and denied her request to contact family.
During a verbal altercation, Tasia refused a demand from Becker to sit down, at which point she was handcuffed behind her back, led by Becker to a different office, and forcibly placed into a chair.
The student continued to argue with the officer, and she claims that at this point Becker pulled her from the chair and slammed her face-first to the ground. According to the suit, Becker outweighed the girl by 100 pounds or more and his “Facebook page boasts of his weight-lifting prowess."
Tasia says she immediately began screaming in pain, and while Becker remained above, pushing her into the ground Littrell, principal Randy Reid, and school employee Pat Keely were aware of the situation but did nothing to aid her.
A nurse eventually responded to Tasia's cries and quickly ascertained that she was in need of immediate medical attention, summoning an ambulance. Becker then placed a white hood over her bloodied face.
Tasia eventually ended up at a local hospital, suffering from "a swollen and bloodied face, rug burns on her arms, and a broken clavicle bone."
Meanwhile, the student's parents received a call from Becker, notifying them only that their daughter had "gotten into trouble" and that the school was "sending her for a medical evaluation." He did not disclose the extent of her injuries or notify them that she would require hospitalization. Becker also allegedly refused to remove Tasia's handcuffs during the ambulance ride to the hospital, despite the nature of her injuries effectively subduing her and the handcuffed position exacerbating the pain from the collarbone fracture.
Tasia and her mother argue that defendants Becker and the City of El Cajon that employs him are guilty of excessive force and that the Grossmont Union High School District and the three named employees were liable under California's Bane Act for not taking steps to prevent Becker from using said force.
U.S. District Court judge William Hayes, however, ruled this week that the district and its employees should be granted immunity from the suit, as the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents citizens of a state from suing any entity of the state in federal court. Unless Tasia and her mother amend their complaint, it appears at this point the suit will continue with only Becker and El Cajon as defendants.