Parents Filing Charges Against Middle School Resource Officer

| July 25, 2013

Lowndes BOE1Valdosta, GA- The parents of a Pine Grove Middle School student are in the process of filing charges against a school resource officer at Pine Grove Middle. Tim and Shanderlin Watkins are filing the charges which stemmed from an incident involving their daughter at the school in May.

Watkins’ 14-year old daughter was accused by the resource officer of instigating a fight and attacking a teacher in the closing days of the school year.  On May 24, the SRO allegedly detained and arrested the girl without probable cause and accused her of felony assault. The teacher involved, Derrick Yarbrough, came to the teen’s defense, saying she did not strike him nor start the fight. Pine Grove’s principal, Ken Overman, also echoed the teacher’s statements.

Shanderlin Watkins says the resource officer did not tell her that he had the girl in handcuffs for an hour after she had been arrested, nor did he read the girl her Miranda rights before questioning the 14 year-old. The SRO’s report states that the girl had been tackled to the ground and cuffed, and was left face-down on the floor for nearly an hour before a science teacher helped her off the floor.

The parents say they attempted to file a formal complaint against the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and the resource officer involved, only to be told that there were no complaint forms available. A complaint and subsequent pre-warrant hearing were scheduled and filed, charging the SRO with simple assault, cruelty to children, violation of oath of office, false statements and writings, concealment of facts, and fraudulent documents in matters within jurisdiction of state or political subdivisions and false imprisonment of a minor.

The pre-warrant hearing will be heard by probate Judge Terri Adams-McDowell, who must determine if the case against the SRO will go to trial. No date has been set for that hearing.

Read more from the Examiner here.

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