A former North Carolina school resource officer seen on video body slamming an 11-year-old boy will face misdemeanor assault and child abuse charges, District Attorney Mike Waters said Tuesday.
The announcement came a day after the State Bureau of Investigation finished its probe into the incident. While the family wanted Warren Durham to face stiffer felony charges, Waters said state law left him no choice but to pursue misdemeanor charges against the ex-officer.
“Despite the violent nature of this assault depicted in the video, the student did not suffer any fractured or broken bones, or sustain any injuries that could be defined under North Carolina law as serious bodily injury,” which are a prerequisite for filing felony charges, the district attorney said during a news conference.
Investigators are seeking an arrest warrant for Durham on counts of assault on a child younger than 12, child abuse and willful failure to discharge duties, Waters said. He would not say whether Durham had been arrested.
“As a part of this investigation, we will be seeking to make sure that Mr. Durham does not ever serve as a law enforcement officer again here,” he said.
The maximum sentence Durham will face is 120 days in jail, the prosecutor said.
CNN has attempted to reach out to Durham.
Asked what led the school resource officer to slam the boy to the ground, Waters said, “It’s just not relevant to my determination as to whether that was an appropriate use of force.”
Video shows the Vance County Middle School resource officer grabbing and slamming the child to the ground, then picking him up and doing it again before yanking the child up and continuing to walk down the hall.
The school alerted the sheriff’s office minutes after the incident Thursday, and Lt. James Goolsby with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that Durham had been fired.
The boy’s grandfather, John Miles, told reporters that the family is hurt by the decision to pursue misdemeanor counts, but he understands the law dictates the charges.
This isn’t over, however, he said. The family has hired an attorney to discuss its next steps in the case, and Miles will travel to Raleigh, the state capital, next week to petition for stronger laws so no more school resource officers will slam a child to the ground and only face a misdemeanor charge, he said.
Miles’ message to Durham: “What you did to my grandson was a disgrace to God, but me as a pastor, I forgive him and I ask him, Do he have kids? Would he want me to body slam his child the way he body slammed my grandson?”
When Miles’ grandson asked him what he did to deserve the resource officer’s treatment, Miles told the boy, “You ain’t did anything,” he said.
The youngster suffered a bruised skull and injured shoulder, his grandfather said. He has woken up “hollering and screaming” from nightmares and has expressed a fear of police officers, he said.
The boy will not be returning to Vance County Middle School; his parents will either find him a new school or arrange for home schooling, Miles said.
Vance County Schools plans to modify its agreement with the sheriff’s office, Superintendent Anthony Jackson said at a Monday news conference. He did not go into detail about what the modifications meant, but said the district will review protocols and procedures and ensure it is using best practices.
The ex-officer had been with the department for two years and had had no incidents that raised concern, Sheriff Curtis Brame told CNN affiliate WRAL-TV.