STUDENT BODY-SLAMMED AT HELIX HIGH FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST LA MESA AND POLICE OFFICER

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

By Miriam Raftery

October 25, 2018 (La Mesa)—Brianna Bell, a Helix Charter High School student shown on video slammed to the ground in handcuffs by a La Mesa Police officer, has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of La Mesa (Brianna Bell v. City of La Mesa, Scott Wulfing, U.S. District Court Case No. 18CV2455 BEN BLM).

The lawsuit alleges that LMPD School Resource Officer Scott Wulfing used excessive force, violated Bell’s civil rights, inflicted emotional distress, and committed assault and battery. Officer Wulfing is also named individually in the suit. He is on administrative leave pending the outcome of a third party independent investigation.

The incident occurred after the 17-year-old student attended an in-school suspension on January 18, 2018 for being tardy, then told her teacher she felt ill and suffers from anemia, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The suit states that a teacher accused the girl of taking drugs and the student gave permission for her backpack to be searched.  No drugs were found, but the teacher did find pepper spray, which is illegal for a minor to possess in California. The lawsuit states that  Bell carried the pepper spray for self defense.

According to the suit, the next day Bell had a scheduled meeting with the principal, Paula Trevino. Shortly after, Trevino told her to leave campus but Bell objected, asking to speak with her teacher first.

Police indicated the student was arrested for refusing to leave the school when ordered and forced to the ground after she tried to escape. The video went viral, with more than 133,000 views to date, prompting protests by students and civil rights activists alleging police brutality by the white officer against Bell, who is African-American. Bell's suit says she was slammed to the ground after she was handcuffed and told the officer that he was hurting her.  After being pulled to her feet, she was slammed onto the concrete a second time with the officer on top of her.

The suit contends that excessive force was used "without cause, when Ms. BELL was not an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or

others, and while Ms. BELL was not resisting nor attempting to evade arrest by flight."

"I can't event put into words how I feel. I just feel so hurt that this happens all the time. That my situation as horrific as it is, is not unique. I feel powerless," Bell, who suffered minor abrasions, told News 8 in February.

Bell filed a claim for damages with the city of La Mesa, which rejected the claim.

“The City is in the process of evaluating the lawsuit and will respond accordingly,” a statement issued by the city of La Mesa today states.  The City hired a third party independent investigator, Barry Aninag, B.A. Invsetigation,s LLC, to conduct a confidential investigation back on February 26th

According to the city,  “Aninag attempted unsuccessfully on several occasions to contact and interview Ms. Bell.”  The city’s independent special legal counsel sent a letter to Bell’s Attorney, Troy P. Owens Jr., on Sept. 12 requesting cooperating in arranging an interview with Bell by Aninag no later than October 27th.

“To date, Mr. Owens has not responded,” the City states. “Consequently, the completion of the investigation has been put on hold pending an interview with Ms. Bell. The City’s independent special legal counsel will be evaluating the status of the investigation moving forward, and providing an update.”

ECM contacted Owens to request comments on behalf of his client, but thus far he has not responded.

 

 

Comments

"Resistance Is Futile"

For sure, cooperation with authorities goes a long ways. Belligerence and resistance usually makes a dicey situation worse. I agree with kabish that if this girl would have left the campus when told to do so, none of this would have happened. She may be a minor age wise, but she is a big girl as well and probably physically strong. The officer did what he had to do in taking control of the subject. Does not matter if female or male, the officer must exert leverage quickly or risk possible serious bodily injury to his or her self. I see a wave of movement where far too many people have a skewed sense of entitlement, and feel they can act out in any way they choose. This is not conducive to a civil society. I think the pending lawsuit is ridiculous as well. There should never be a reward for bad behavior. Especially when blaming the police for causing the end result of something someone started. Time to grow up and take responsibility for one's own actions.

A tad much..

Oooooooh she carried the pepper spray for self defense, guess that makes it okay?? lol We don't see what happened before the first body slam, so no one can really comment on that till other video is provided. However, the second body slam seemed to had been a bit excessive... It looks like she was trying to pull away and got the officer off balance a little so he just used that momentum to take her down. I mean if you look at police policy I'm pretty sure if a suspect tries to pull away and resist the to do thing is to put them on the ground. What people seem to miss is that these rules for engagement do not have restriction on age. While I think it was excessive, in the eye of the law I have a feeling the officer won't be found at fault. Not to mention the fact if the girl just left the school when told, none of this would of happened. Lessons learned?? -Don't bring mace to school -Carrying mace is illegal -When told to leave campus, leave -When told you are under arrest for not leaving don't resist -After your first body slam, pulling away will give undesired results