HISD officer accused of beating student

September 11, 2010 2:08:48 AM PDT
A Houston ISD police officer is on leave and under investigation because of what a student says happened to him on a bus. The incident at the center of the allegations was recorded on camera. It was on a bus outside Yates High School in southeast Houston Thursday afternoon where Molica Lewis says her son was so badly beaten that his face will never be the same.

"I think that my son is going through a lot of trauma right now," she said.

Worse, she says, is that his graphic injuries did not come from another student, but an HISD police officer.

"I want him to go to jail," Lewis said. "I want his badge to be taken from him, and I do not, under any circumstances, feel that he should work around children."

Pictures of 16-year-old Derrick White were taken just minutes after he was hurt. His mother says the officer asked him to get off the bus so he could question him about a gang fight, and when he wouldn't, the officer used force.

The bus did have a camera, and HISD Police Chief Jimmie Dotson has watched the video.

"It's concerning enough for me to conduct a thorough investigation," Dotson said.

Dotson identifies the officer as 27-year-old Christopher Harris. He's been with the department for two years and is now on desk duty at HISD's police headquarters.

The chief has also asked the Harris County District Attorney's Office to launch a criminal investigation but wouldn't say exactly why.

"I'm not going to get off into the details of what occurred or what we saw on the tape," Dotson said. "All I can tell you is what I saw as police chief is enough leave me to conduct an investigation."

Derrick's mother, who spoke to Eyewitness News while he was still in surgery, describes a painful recovery.

"They are going to put two steel plates on either side of his jaws," she said. "He's going to have screws in his jaw, surgical braces, and possibly, they're going to wire his mouth shut again."

It will be a long road that'll be made a little easier by her confidence in the system.

"I think they're gonna do the right thing," Lewis said.

HISD police aren't releasing the tape from the school bus. In fact, it has been handed over to the district attorney's office.

Students and parents told Eyewitness News that there have been several gang fights at Yates since the start of the school year.

Community activist Quanell X said the beaten teen isn't on HISD's gang list, but he does have a criminal record that includes burglary.

The HISD Police Department's jurisdiction extends well beyond its campuses. It includes all areas within HISD boundaries and more than 200,000 students, faculty and staff. According to the department, its officers are always on patrol, even on the weekends and before and after school.


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