An Akron police officer will now be reassigned as a three-month investigation continues into his use of force against a middle school girl.
Akron Schools Superintendent David James and city police Chief James Nice agreed Friday that Patrolman Jon Morgan be transferred from his assignment at Jennings middle school before classes resume Monday.
The move would be temporary while school and police officials continue to investigate the Oct. 26 incident in which a 13-year-old girl suffered a broken arm while being restrained by Morgan in a school hallway.
Morgan had remained assigned to the school until a Beacon Journal story was published Friday detailing the event. Late Friday morning, James said he felt it necessary to request the change.
“We’re not saying that [Morgan] did anything wrong,” James said. “But I felt we needed to get all the information sorted out. And we want to make sure that everything runs smoothly at Jennings when students return to school.”
Nice said he agreed to the temporary reassignment. Morgan, he said, will perform duties outside city schools until the internal investigation is resolved. This is Morgan’s third year at Jennings as a resource officer.
Nice called the incident “unfortunate” and said he expects the investigation to conclude quickly.
“There’s no doubt it’s an unfortunate situation that the girl ends up with her arm broken,” Nice said Friday. “He’s trained as a police officer and, you know, tried to restrain her and bad things happened.”
Sandra Williams filed a complaint against Morgan on Nov. 7, about a week after her daughter, Tamika, suffered the broken arm. Police investigators have yet to interview either the mother or daughter about the allegations.
Confrontation on video
The incident was captured on school surveillance cameras. As of Thursday, Morgan’s assignment remained unchanged and James said he had not yet seen the video.
On Friday, a Beacon Journal story revealed the allegations of excessive force as well as Sandra Williams’ demands that Morgan be removed from the school. The video is available on Ohio.com.
Eddie Sipplen, Williams’ attorney, said on Friday that he is pleased James and Nice took the action to remove Morgan. However, he said the move should have been done long ago.
“The video has been available to [James] for a long time. It shouldn’t take the action of the media to get the schools to act,” he said. “They should know what’s going on in their schools and viewed that video a lot sooner than they did.”
The video shows the girl standing with a hand on her hip at a doorway when Morgan begins forcing the student backward across a hall and against a locker. He then grabs the girl’s left arm and spins her around, raising the arm up toward her right shoulder.
At one point, the girl appears to be lifted by the officer several inches off the ground while other students mill through the hallway.
Tamika Williams, now 14, was not charged with any crime. She has since transferred to another Akron middle school.
Morgan’s report contends the eighth-grader bumped him prior to his use of force. The girl denies the allegation. The report from October also reveals that Tamika was a new student at Jennings after transferring from Innes middle school for disciplinary issues. Morgan wrote that during her first two days at Jennings, Tamika was walking around the school cursing in the hallways and pulling papers off the walls.
James said previously that police officers assigned to the district’s schools are there to provide security for students. They are not expected to become involved in school disciplinary issues, he said. There is no indication that any school official asked for Morgan to intervene.
Nice said the delay in the investigation was due in part to the lead investigator’s three-week vacation and the need for police to subpoena the video from Akron schools.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.