WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A Boynton Beach police officer who kicked a middle school student's feet out from under him while the youth was handcuffed was justified in his actions, Palm Beach County prosecutors found in a report released Wednesday.
The May incident, caught on video by nearby students, looked bad, prosecutors acknowledged in the report clearing officer Germaine Jones of wrongdoing.
However, they said, 14-year-old Kevens Jean-Baptiste was placed in handcuffs after taunting officers with profanity and being suspected of pelting a school bus driver with eggs. Jones swept his legs out from under him when the youth ignored warnings to end his obscenity-laced rant and then chest-bumped two officers. It was necessary to maintain control of the situation that involved two busloads of students en route to Congress Middle School, prosecutors said.
"The manner in which Officer Jones placed the juvenile on the ground may have been poorly executed and may have, at least in part, been executed in that manner because of the disrespect the juvenile was showing to the adults and police officers on the scene," they wrote.
Attorney Kevin Anderson, who is representing the youth's parents, said he was stunned by the prosecutor's conclusions. The video, he said, showed no chest-bumping.
"It's one thing not to elect to pursue criminal charges but it's another to defend these kind of actions against a handcuffed defenseless child," he said. "He could have hit his head and been seriously hurt."
Jean-Baptiste's parents claim their son had a lump on his head, bruises and was extremely dizzy after the incident. Prosecutors said he didn't ask to see the school nurse and, once at school, apologized to one of the other officers involved.
Jones was placed on administrative leave after the incident. Boynton police brass asked State Attorney Dave Aronberg to investigate after the family's attorney complained the agency shouldn't investigate one of its own.
Copyright 2014 - The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
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