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East Forsyth High School officer's use of Taser deemed reasonable

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TWC News: East Forsyth High School officer's use of Taser deemed reasonable
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KERNERSVILLE , N.C. – A school resource officer at East Forsyth High School used a Taser to break up a fight between two students earlier this week. It drew a large amount of attention after student cell phone video of the incident went viral.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools said there's no policy about tasing in the schools and they rely on the officers.

"What happened in this incident, is that two people, two students were arguing in third period and after the class ended, that argument escalated into a physical confrontation and the SRO was then needed to break that up," said Theo Helm with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

The Kernersville Police Department said every SRO carries a Taser.

Officials said officers are trained and required to evaluate the situation and make a reasonable decision given the circumstance.

They also must warn the suspects of the Taser.

During the incident Monday, officials said Deeney did in fact scream "Taser!"

"We knew the student, Mr. Smith, heard it because he stepped back right away," said Gamble.

The officer involved, James Deeney, is with the Kernersville Police Department.
Chief Kenneth Gamble said during Deeney's two years as the SRO for East Forsyth, there have been two Taser incidents during school hours. That includes this one.

"Officers do not have to wait for an assault to take place, they just have to believe it's going to take place and at that time, he engaged the taser," said Gamble.

Chief Gamble said the students involved were cousins, both age 17.

"These two young men were old enough to be arrested. They're also, in Mr. Bloom's case, over 300 pounds, so our other options in terms of use of force are limited," said Gamble.

"After the incident occurred, Officer Deeney interviewed both young men, and Mr. Bloom indicated that he did not intend to stop fighting, that he had been insulted by Mr. Smith, and that he was going to continue. It was his intention to continue and that he knew that Officer Deeney was getting ready to tase him," Gamble said.

Gamble said all of the students are made aware that the SRO carries a Taser during their freshman year, and that parents are also aware.

He said the students are told that if they are involved in an altercation, and hear the word "Taser" they need to drop their aggressive stance.

Gamble said the department has done an administrative review of the video and the officer's use of force. As a result, officials have concluded the Taser was reasonably used during the incident.

For a full look at the student captured video, visit Story Links.

Information from Winston-Salem Journal

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