FBISD police officer's pepper-spraying to break up fight affects students not involved, parent says

Mycah Hatfield Image
Thursday, March 28, 2024
Fort Bend ISD officer uses pepper spray to break up fight at school
Parents want action against Fort Bend ISD police after one of their officers deployed pepper spray at Lake Olympia Middle School to break up a fight.

MISSOURI CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- Lake Olympia Middle School parents are upset after a Fort Bend Independent School District police officer used pepper spray to break up a fight, affecting students who weren't involved.

Stacey Alvarez said she got a text from her 13-year-old son on Tuesday afternoon saying there was a fight as he padded through the hallway between classes. He said that the officer used pepper spray to separate the students who were fighting, and the mist got on him.

Her son wrote in his statement for the school that he was having trouble breathing because of the combination of the spray and his asthma. The 13-year-old continued, saying the nurse denied care because there were "too many people in the (nurse's office)."

"When a parent gets a message from your child saying, 'Mom, I can't breathe. I can't see,' that's terrifying," Alvarez said.

A video is circulating on social media among the students of the fight.

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"You see kids running everywhere, screaming, and then you see two kids fighting where they're running around fighting," Alvarez said. "Then, you see the police officer behind them. Instead of the police officer trying to break up the kids or do anything, he immediately reached for the mace."

In a statement, Fort Bend ISD said:

"A physical altercation occurred (Tuesday) involving a group of students at Lake Olympia Middle School. The school's campus officers quickly intervened; however, students were uncooperative, and an officer used pepper spray to protect the safety of others. The situation was soon contained. Any students who were affected by the spray were evaluated and assisted by a district nurse. The actions of the students are under review, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken. We have high expectations for our students and do not tolerate behavior that impedes the learning process or the safety of others. We encourage each student to work through conflict in a constructive manner, exhibiting patience and empathy for others. We ask our parents to reiterate this message at home."

"If you can't control these children in a fight, maybe you shouldn't have one officer," Alvarez said. "Maybe you should have other people monitoring these hallways because this is clearly an ongoing situation."

Fort Bend ISD police's General Orders Manual does not explicitly address pepper spray but states, "Officers can use force in a police action when - and to the extent - that it's needed."

Comparatively, Houston ISD's policy allows pepper spray to be used by officers certified to carry it when all verbal commands have failed, or the officer cannot control the person in question. In HISD, the spray cannot be used on special education or elementary school students, as per the policy. It goes on to list what an officer should do when deploying it.

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