LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Louisville school resource officer was arrested and suspended Tuesday for allegedly punching a middle school student in the face so hard it knocked him to the ground.
The incident, which occurred Jan. 22 at Olmstead Academy North Middle School was the first of two incidents caught on school cameras that led to the arrest of 31-year-old officer Jonathan Hardin on charges of assault, wanton endangerment, official misconduct and false swearing, WLKY reports.
School video footage of the school’s cafeteria on Jan. 22 allegedly shows Hardin approached a 13-year-old student he accused of cutting in line, then punched him in the face so hard he was knocked to the ground. That student was taken to the hospital with mouth and face injuries, according to WKU Public Radio.
Hardin charged the student with menacing and resisting arrest, both of which were unwarranted, court records allege.
“The incident was in front of everyone. It was in the cafeteria, so we were aware of it,” district spokesman Ben Jackey told WLKY.
“We contacted LMPD, we contacted the supervisor and the supervisor actually saw the video. According to the principal, he was make aware the supervisor intended to remove this SRO from the school. I’m not sure where that process was when the second incident happened,” Jackey said.
“Why that didn’t happen is part of the investigation,” he told WKU.
Regardless, Hardin was back on duty the following day, and on Jan. 27 surveillance cameras caught a second altercation between the officer and another 13-year-old student.
The footage allegedly shows Hardin put the student in a choke hold – which eventually rendered him unconscious – before handcuffing the teen. Police allege Hardin then kept the boy from class and eventually drove him home, but didn’t fully explain what happened to his parents, WLKY reports.
“A medical examination of the victim showed that the unauthorized choke hold caused a loss of blood flow to the brain and resulted in ‘anoxic injury to the brain,’ according to the arrest warrant” cited by WKU.
“Dr. Bill Smock conducted the examination and concluded that Hardin’s conduct ‘manifested an extreme indifference to the value of human life,’ according to the report.”
Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad issued an innocuous statement on Hardin’s arrest before declining further comment.
“Allegations of our officers involved in criminal wrongdoing are very concerning and something we take quite serious,” Conrad wrote.
School officials allege the two incidents were not the first time Hardin has come up. Three previous complaints were filed against him this year, though one was found to be unsubstantiated, WLKY reports.
Hardin has worked for LMPD for seven years, and was previously a SRO at Monroe Traditional High School last year, school officials told WKU.
He’s also one of three officers named in a civil lawsuit alleging they abused children during a summer program, but was never charged criminally in that case.
Hardin was released from jail on bond and is set to appear in court Feb. 6.