COVINGTON, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a use of force incident at Alcovy High School involving several students taking candy out of a vending machine. School Resource Officers responded to stop the students from getting the candy, and a physical interaction occurred.
The encounter happened Thursday morning while students were changing classes. Newton County Sheriff’s said the door to a vending machine was left open and students were rushing to steal candy.
Officers say teachers tried to stop the students, but the students kept pushing in. School Resource Officers heard the commotion and responded.
One student took a video of that response and shared it with FOX 5. It shows the deputies making physical contact with at least one student--forcing him to the ground.
FOX 5 spoke with that student, 14-year-old Asah Glenn, and his mother. They are being represented by Attorneys Maluwi Davis and Harold Spence who say the use of force, in this case, was excessive and unwarranted.
“I was scared for my life,” said ninth-grader Asah Glenn. “It was two armed deputy sheriffs and a coach that tackled me over the Snickers, and I was scared,” said Glenn.
Attorney Davis says the video proves Glenn’s claim. “He's totally compliant, he’s not resisting, yet they grab him by his throat, lift him into the air, slam him into the wall and then on the ground,” said Davis.
Glenn said he didn’t try to run away with the candy. “When I had the Snickers in my hand, I saw the coach in my peripheral vision, so I dropped the Snickers bar, and that's when they used force on me,” Glenn said.
The sheriff's office confirms another student was pepper-sprayed during the encounter, but they tell FOX 5 there was no evidence of officers choking or body slamming students. Glenn's lawyers say that's not true--these students were mistreated.
“He’s a ninth grader,” said Davis. “They goof off, they make dumb decisions, but nothing that would warrant the level of violence you see in this video,” he said.
The Newton County School System responded to the incident with this statement:
“In addition to possible legal charges, students involved in the theft will be disciplined for violating the student code of conduct. We are aware of the student’s allegation and have forwarded the information to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office for review.”
Glenn is facing charges for theft by taking and disorderly conduct. He is suspended for three days. Two other students, 14 and 15-years-old, are also charged with theft. The 15-year-old student is additionally being charged for disorderly conduct, disruption of a public school and obstruction.
The Newton County Sheriff's Office says it has already launched a use-of-force investigation into this incident.