DERIDDER, La. (BRPROUD) — A video of a Louisiana high school fight that ended up involving the police is being called “disturbing.” The fight took place after a game between Deridder High School and Leesville High School on Feb. 11.
The Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office and DeRidder Police Department released a statement on Monday, February 14, stating that “several of the deputies were struck multiple times in the face and kicked which led to multiple arrests.”
Law enforcement also stated that the juveniles arrested at the scene “have been identified as associates of a group known to law enforcement as ‘LTF.'”
LTF has been characterized as a gang, but those who know the students involved in this incident tell a different story.
According to witnesses, Janaya Jackson’s son is the student pinned on the ground by police in the video.
In a recent interview, Jackson insisted her son was not a member of LTF. She said she found out through a phone call from her sister that her son had been arrested.
Jackson said her son was booked into jail and faces two felony charges. After being released from jail, Jackson took her son to the hospital.
Jackson explained her son was protecting his brother and tried to walk away while everyone was cursing at each other.
She said the interactions between members of both high schools were verbal, not physical.
When asked about the contents of the video, Jackson called what she saw “disturbing.”
A former student at one of the schools shared a video that someone else shot “to raise awareness about the situation.” After watching the video, the student said, “Police are trained to defuse the situation and in this case, they didn’t.”
Another parent of a high school student said the juveniles who were arrested “are respectful, helpful, and all-around good boys.”
Michaela Legget, of DeRidder, Louisiana, provided the video. She said she started recording around 9:30 p.m. She said it shows “three police officers on top of a 16-year-old boy, punching him after they had slammed him on the ground.”
The video also shows two juveniles being arrested by law enforcement. Legget said this all happened within five or 10 minutes after the game was over.
Legget also said the kids were only verbally jousting with each other and nothing became physical until law enforcement intervened. Legget estimates there were about 50 kids and 15 or more police at the scene.
DeRidder Mayor Misty Clanton said in a statement on Feb. 12 that she, along with Police Chief Richard and Deputy Chief Darren Hall, had reviewed the video footage.
“My preliminary findings reveal that no DeRidder Police Officer was involved in any direct physical altercation with any juvenile,” she said.
Saying an investigation is ongoing, Clanton called on the community to come together, saying, “We are better than this.”
“These have been some difficult, dark moments – but if we want a better outcome we are going to have to bring this community together to work for the future that we all know we are capable of building,” she said.
“I pray for all involved. The children and their families. Our schools. Our law enforcement community. Now is not the time to tear these individuals down. We need to lift them up and continue to show our love and support. They all need us now more than ever.”
Another parent echoed that sentiment: “The police here, and the schools, have a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy, which means that every perceived infraction is punished. I think the police, school administration, and other adults need to remember that all kids aren’t the bad guys. Remember what it feels like to be 15, 17 years old. Reach out to these kids in a way that would be received by their teenage selves. Sometimes the hard line is just too hard.”