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Student’s delinquency adjudication involving in-school incident reversed

August 28, 2012

A Ben Davis High School student won an appeal of his adjudication as a delinquent Tuesday after the Court of Appeals held the circumstances for which he was adjudicated did not meet the equivalent of Class D felony resisting law enforcement.

K.W. was a 15-year-old student when he and another student faced off with raised fists indicating they were about to fight. A teacher intervened, as did school liaison Officer Eugene Smith, who serves as an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer employed by the school.

Smith placed a handcuff on one of K.W.’s wrists, but the student pulled away and Smith initiated a “straight arm-bar takedown,” struggling with the student and sustaining injuries in the process. After a hearing, K.W. was adjudicated a delinquent child on a charge of Class D felony resisting law enforcement when committed by an adult.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, though, in a unanimous opinion written by Judge Edward Najam.

“K.W. contends that the evidence shows that Officer Smith was not ‘lawfully engaged in the execution’ of the duties of an IMPD officer when he handcuffed K.W. but was instead engaging in the duties of a school liaison officer, which is not covered by the statutory definition of law enforcement officer. … We must agree,” Najam wrote in K.W. v. State of Indiana.

“For the crime of resisting law enforcement to have been committed, Indiana Code 35-44-3-3 requires that a law enforcement officer be engaged in his duties as a law enforcement officer at the time of the offender’s forcible resistance. A school liaison officer is not a law enforcement officer under the statute, and neither is there any evidence in the record that Officer Smith was acting in his capacity as a law enforcement officer when he handcuffed K.W. Thus, we hold that K.W.’s adjudication for resisting law enforcement cannot stand.”

 

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