Police Officers At North Carolina HBCU Placed On Leave After Video Shows Student Forcefully Arrested
In a video, police can be seen slamming the young man against the wall and kneeling on his neck.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has been forced to place two police officers on administrative leave after a video posted on Twitter showed the men slamming a student against a wall and pushing down on his neck on Wednesday evening.
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The two officers, identified only as Officer Shah and Sgt. Legrand, are seen manhandling sophomore Verdant Julius, who also serves as president of the class of 2022.
The dispute allegedly began after the university forced students to leave campus due to the coronavirus outbreak. The school canceled all in-person classes on Monday and ordered students to be off campus by Sunday.
On March 18, I was unlawfully arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest in my own residence hall. The University Police Department, as well as, N.C. A&T SU have been handling this incident poorly so far. @ncatsuaggies pic.twitter.com/xdF4mFQUfs— Verdant Julius (@kuwverdant) March 19, 2020
A petition signed by nearly 8,000 people explains Julius, his friend Mantryll Williams and another young woman attempted to enter a residential building to help each other clear out their belongings.
The police officers allegedly wouldn't allow the young woman to enter the building even though she was a student at the school, saying only people who lived in the dorm could enter. The students politely asked why she couldn't help her friend clear out his room, and the officers responded angrily, telling Julius, "If you take one step closer I am going to have you arrested for obstruction of an investigation.”
Video of the encounter captures Julius being grabbed by the two officers before being slammed against the wall and then the floor. As they manhandled him, one officer said, "If you resist, I am going to mase you.”
"This whole situation could have been avoidable, as everyone is in a rush to pack and evacuate campus due to the pandemic of Covid-19. Police are here to protect and serve, (and) slamming to the ground should never be a 1st, 2nd or 3rd thought of a police officer to arrest someone not posing a threat and over an campus ID," Williams told The Winston-Salem Journal.
#NCAT On March 18th, I was a witness to my friend and mentor, Verdant Julius’, unlawful arrest in his own residence hall by, @NCATUPD1 (university police).— Mikayla🌻 (@Unapologeticfro) March 20, 2020
I am hear to tell you the justification for the officers actions you are looking for doesn’t exist.
A&T Police Chief Charles Wilson told the newspaper that Julius was arrested and charged with resist, delay or obstruct of a public officer and trespassing, adding that he was released after agreeing to appear in court.
"University administrators are evaluating the matter in an effort to reach an appropriate resolution. Further, we have met with the individual student, as well as Student Government Association leadership, to understand their concerns. Be assured that the issue of campus safety is one of our top priorities and maintaining that safe environment requires the cooperation and understanding of every member of our community," the school said in a statement.
Julius wrote on Twitter that he was appalled with how the school was handling the incident and said it has a long history of over-policing students.
He said he wants a statement from police about the incident, an apology and for both officers to be fired. He also wants the charges against him to be dropped.
The issue of overpolicing and unlawful police misconduct create an environment on our campus that is dehumanizing and threatens the safety of current and prospective students. It is worrisome knowing that this is not the first incident of police misconduct at @ncatsuaggies— Verdant Julius (@kuwverdant) March 20, 2020
"The over-policing of Black students is an ongoing problem at many colleges and universities in the United States. It is outrageous and disappointing to witness this unnecessary use of force used on a student who was simply trying to go to his dorm room with friends and fellow students. Verdant Julius and the students of NCA&T deserve the rights and freedoms that should be afforded to all university students. They deserve to feel safe and protected on their campus," the petition said.