Schools near Vegas pressured to disclose information on cop who slammed Black student, pinned him with knee

The ACLU said a Nevada school district failed to comply with a public records law. The group is demanding to see reports involving a cop who pinned a Black student with his knee.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada is asking a court to force Las Vegas-area school officials to release information about a school police officer slamming a student to the ground and pinning him beneath his knee in February.

In a court filing Tuesday in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, the ACLU accused the Clark County School District of “willfully” failing to comply with state public records law following a Feb. 21 request for records about the Feb. 9 encounter near Durango High School.

The document seeks a court order for school administrators to turn over records including officer body camera video and incident reports, as well as to impose monetary penalties. A hearing was not immediately scheduled.

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School officials have said they are investigating. They said Wednesday they don’t comment about litigation.

The actions of the officer, Lt. Jason Elfberg, have drawn public protests and a call from the Las Vegas NAACP for his firing.

Las Vegas NAACP branch

Quentin Savior, president of the Las Vegas NAACP branch, speaks against police violence on Feb. 17, 2023, after a cop slammed a high school student to the ground and pinned him underneath his knee.  (AP Photo/Ty O’Neil, File)

A student who said he was handcuffed by police for jaywalking outside the high school told KVVU-TV that the officer pinning his friend, who is Black, reminded him of the 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed him to the ground with his knee for nearly 10 minutes.

Elfberg’s attorney, Adam Levine, told The Associated Press in February that he was confident the investigation will clear his client of allegations of wrongdoing.

Clark County School District police said the encounter unfolded while officers were investigating a report of a firearm near the 2,400-student campus in a suburban area southwest of the Las Vegas Strip. They have not released further information, including whether a weapon was found.

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District police Chief Mike Blackeye said the officer seen on cellphone video with his knee on a teen was reassigned to other duties pending the outcome of the investigation. District Superintendent Jesus Jara said he wanted a complete review of the school police department use-of-force policy.

Some state lawmakers also have called for a policy review. The school district is the fifth largest in the U.S. with about 300,000 students. Its nearly 200 sworn police officers have authority to make arrests and issue traffic citations.

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ACLU attorney Jacob Smith, in a statement announcing the court filing, called the records it seeks “essential in our fight to adequately investigate this matter, represent our students, and uncover the full scope of these officers’ misconduct.”

“CCSD has offered nothing but legal pretenses to withhold information they are required by Nevada law to release,” Smith said.

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