Two Tennessee police officers are being accused of excessive force after they Tasered a 36-year-old middle school cleaning woman.
The police claim that they thought Juana Raymundo, originally from Guatemala, was a “burglar” because she was in the otherwise empty school building at night.
But cleaning the school at night was not new for Raymundo, nor for many school janitors across the United States.
Raymundo has been charged with “evading arrest” since she ran from the police who were aiming weapons at her in the middle of the night, in her place of employment.
Even though she clearly had cleaning supplies in the hallway, the Times Free Press reports that the police chased and tasered the innocent woman.
Sgt. Jamie Heath and Officer Brian Desmond said they were sure she was a burglar though, so they entered the Ooltewah Middle School at 8:30 p.m. They claimed that because a door to the school was left open, they had “probable cause” to enter the premises.
But the door was left open because Raymundo was taking trash out to the school’s dumpster. Propping the door open was nothing unusual.
Police searched the school, and found Raymundo who they claim appeared, “nervous and somewhat reserved” when she saw them aiming firearms at her.
Officer Heath said he used his Taser as he chased Raymundo, causing her to fall to the ground.
Investigators explain that Raymundo has difficulties understanding both English and Spanish. This didn’t matter to the officers who decided to inflict violence first and ask questions later.
A Nashville attorney who specializes in immigration and civil rights says the police report was “defensively written” – showing that the police know they were in the wrong.
“This is a pretty defensively written report,” attorney Andrew Free explained. “I wonder if this is the same attention to detail that the officer gives every affidavit of complaint. And if so, why wasn’t there more attention to detail noting whether they identified themselves as they were sweeping the building?”
Maria Haberfield, a professor of police science at John Jay University in New York City, agrees that the police went way beyond any reasonable use of force for the situation.
“This was just an open door,” Haberfield said. “There wasn’t a report of burglary; there was a report of an open door. The officers didn’t witness any extreme acts of vandalism or see that the computers were ripped out — there has to be some correlation between what they witnessed and the response.”
(Article by Jackson Marciana)