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Student’s delinquency adjudication involving in-school incident reversed

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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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  • Unlawful Restraint
    The officer should be charged with unlawful restraint and illegal imprisonment of a minor and the boy's parents should sue the school and the officer, as it seems the officer's first action was to use force!

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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