FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – The video is hard to watch, a year after a Farmington Police Officer was caught on lapel camera roughing up a middle school student, is now facing charges. Attorney General Hector Balderas says this case should serve as an example and improve the way school resource officers respond to issues with students.
Disturbing video shows a former Farmington Police School resource officer roughing up a sixth-grader while trying to put the 11-year-old girl in handcuffs. Now, a year later, that officer Zachary Christensen has officially been charged with battery and child abuse for his actions.”It took quite some time but we believe at this point this is the right course of action to move forward,” Balderas says.
The incident happened at Farmington’s Mesa View Middle School. The student, with known behavioral issues, was refusing to listen to school staff and was wandering in and out of the building. Christensen followed the girl around campus for half an hour and tried to arrest her after he claimed the girl assaulted two school employees; something the video doesn’t back up.
Balderas says this case isn’t just about justice but it’s also about improving school safety statewide. “I want to make sure from this case that the entire state, that we experience a learning moment. My hope is that we train law enforcement and qualified school personnel will really come together to ensure that we really do the best we can in raising the standard of care,” Balderas says.
An attorney representing the girl’s family says they’ll be filing a lawsuit against Farmington schools and police over the incident. Christensen resigned from the department. After the incident, the Farmington Police Chief released a video apology saying, “There’s no excuse for the way this girl was treated.”