If a middle-aged man can’t restrain a 6th-grader without an illegal chokehold, the last thing he needs is a badge and a gun.
Once again, the biggest threat to Black children in school isn’t the pandemic or a school shooter; it’s the adults who are supposed to keep them safe. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jerrel Perez plans to sue and demands charges filed against off-duty cop Shawn Guetschow, who nearly killed his 12-year-old daughter during a fistfight by kneeling on her neck like George Floyd. On Friday, Kenosha Unified School District released surveillance footage of the incident.
On March 4, Perez’s daughter was in the cafeteria at Lincoln Middle School when she got into a scuffle with another student. A shove turned to punches flying, and instead of deescalating the situation by breaking up the fight, Guetschow endangered the girl’s life by kneeling on her neck to handcuff her.
Perez took his daughter to the emergency room that night for concussion symptoms and neck injuries. After the incident, she required 2 weeks of medical leave from school to recover. The girl is still in therapy and under neurological treatment for the emotional and physical trauma the incident caused.
“She’s humiliated. She’s traumatized. Every day I gotta hear, ‘Daddy, I don’t want to go to school,'” Perez said on Wednesday at a press conference outside the school district. His lawyer Drew Devinney, Kenosha school board member Todd Price, and several activists from Kenosha and nearby cities joined him.
Devinney explained that Perez’s daughter was the victim of a bully before Guetschow accosted her. “The videos that have been publicly released show Jerrel’s daughter defending herself against another student who had assaulted her,” he said. Guetschow fell and hit his head on a table as he broke up the fight, but Devinney clarified, “At no point did Jerrel’s daughter push or strike at this officer.”
There’s no situation where it’s appropriate for a grown man to tackle and put his knee on the neck of an unarmed pre-teen girl, but all bets are off if that coward has a badge. Even though Wisconsin banned the use of chokeholds like the ones used by Guetschow and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the Wisconsin cop was placed on paid leave by the school district and still hasn’t been criminally charged. The Kenosha Police Department has not yet commented on Guetschow or the incident, but he is still employed on the force.
Devinney echoed Perez’s calls for criminal charges against Guetschow and unpaid leave from Kenosha PD, regardless of the technicality that he was off-duty while working for the school district. “My opinion is a police officer who is enacting a restraint like this is always acting on duty,” Devinney said. “The officer continued to push his knee into Jerrel’s daughter’s neck as she told him she couldn’t breathe,” he continued.
On Tuesday, Guetschow resigned from his position with the school district.
“Given the events that have taken place and the escalated attention this incident at Lincoln Middle School has caused in the community, mental and emotional strain it has [brought] upon my family, and the lack of communication and or support I have received from the district, I can no longer continue my employment with the Kenosha Unified School District,” the 37-year-old wrote to Kenosha Superintendent Beth Ormseth.
Perez plans to file a lawsuit against Guetschow, Kenosha Unified School District, and the Kenosha Police Department as soon as his daughter is ready. There’s only one criminal here, and it’s not the 12-year-old girl.