Chicago

Dnigma Howard is a 16-year-old Chicago student who was dragged down stairs, punched and Tased by school resource officers at Marshall High School.

According to the officers, they responded to a call in January after Dnigma was suspended following an altercation and refused to leave school grounds. Prosecutors said she kicked, spit at and hit officers. Allegedly, her resistance caused police to fall down a flight of stairs.

New footage disagrees.

Security camera footage obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times showed Dnigma being attacked unprovoked by officers Johnnie Pierre and Sherry Trip, who sought no assistance from her father or school officials. Dnigma’s father was not permitted to de-escalate the situation. Despite this, Dnigma was initially charged with assaulting the officers.

“Those officers filed a false statement,” said the Howard family’s attorney, Andrew Stroth. “Their statements are completely untrue and are completely contradicted by what is shown on the video. The saving grace for Dnigma is that this was caught on camera.”

This is the latest incident in a long line of tension between Chicago police and children of color. Stroth called on Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot to reevaluate police presence in Chicago schools.

“I think it really just shows that officers like that shouldn’t be in a school,” said Dnigma’s father Laurentio Howard.

As Grit Post has previously reported, police in schools have led to an increase in school discipline being handled by the criminal justice system, instead of by schools. This problem disproportionately impacts minorities, particularly girls of color, like Dnigma.

Specifically in Chicago, a report from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law found that school resource officers lack proper training, had little accountability, and amassed $2 million in misconduct settlements for actions that occurred on and off school grounds between 2012 and 2016.

Dnigma also has an Individualized Education Program, a special plan that permits her access to a school counselor when she requests. But officials refused to allow her to speak to her counselor during the incident.

Chicago Public Schools has cooperated with investigations, and a spokesperson expressed dismay at the particulars of this incident.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

 

 

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