Excessive force: Officer resigns after throwing girl to the ground

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FARMINGTON, N.M. (KOB) – A veteran Farmington, New Mexico police officer is out of a job following accusations he used excessive force on a middle school student with special needs.

Lapel video from the Aug. 27 incident shows officer Zachary Christensen roughing up an 11-year-old girl at Mesa View Middle School.

It’s an incident that sent shockwaves through the Farmington police force.

“That’s not our standards. That’s not who we are,” said Farmington Police Chief Steven Hebbe.

Officer Christensen spent the past four years assigned to Mesa View as a school resource officer.

The incident in question involved a sixth grade student who was in trouble for behavioral issues.  

The day of the incident, school administrators can be seen on the lapel video following the girl around campus as she waits for her mom to pick her up from school.

“This morning, she went straight to the cafeteria. She took more milks that she was supposed to. She threw a milk on the ground,” Officer Christensen says in the lapel camera footage.

According to Officer Christensen’s field report, the child assaulted two school employees that morning. The officer claims one assault occurred when the girl walked past the assistant principal and brushes past him and the second occurred when the girl attempted to open the door and walked past the principal. Ultimately, the charges against the girl did not stick.

Following the perceived offenses, Officer Christensen loses his patience, grabs the girls backpack and throws her to the ground. The struggle lasts for roughly six minutes.

At one point, a school administrator repeatedly tells the officer to allow the girl to get up.

“Officer Christensen – she is not a threat to yourself or others at this moment,” said the school employee to which the officer replied: “No, she is!”

In the field report filed by Officer Christensen, he writes: “She was very strong, stronger than I was.”

Several minutes into the confrontation, a school employee tells the officer his actions have gone too far.

“We’re not going to use excessive force,” the school employee told the officer to which Officer Christensen replies: “It’s not excessive!”

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