School Video Shows Off-Duty Officer Putting His Knee on a Girl’s Neck

A police officer in Kenosha, Wis., has resigned from his position as a school security officer after video circulating on social media showed him restraining a 12-year-old student by putting his knee on her neck.

Surveillance footage released on Friday by the Kenosha Unified School District shows a fight on March 4 between two students in the cafeteria at Lincoln Middle School. In the video, school district employees intervene, including a Kenosha Police Department officer working off-duty for the school district. The officer, Shawn Guetschow, has been an officer with the Kenosha police for four years, according to the department.

The video shows Mr. Guetschow restraining the student and kneeling on her neck for at least 20 seconds. The girl’s name has not been released.

Drew DeVinney, an attorney for the girl’s father, Jerrel Perez, said that Mr. Perez took his daughter to the emergency room that night to be evaluated for neck injuries and concussion symptoms. Mr. DeVinney said she was undergoing continued therapy and neurological evaluation to determine the extent of her injuries and that she was given a doctor’s note permitting two weeks of medical leave while she recovers.

“She’s humiliated, she’s traumatized,” Mr. Perez said at a news conference this week, adding that every day, she tells him, “‘Daddy, I don’t want to go to school.’”

Mr. DeVinney noted that the maneuver by Mr. Guetschow mirrored the one used by Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.

“The officer continued to push his knee into Jerrel’s daughter’s neck as she told him she couldn’t breathe,” Mr. DeVinney said.

This week, Mr. Guetschow resigned from his position with the school district, citing the “mental and emotional strain” it placed on his family, and “the lack of communication and or support I have received from the district.” The police department has not said whether it would take action against the officer and did not respond to a request for comment. Efforts to reach Mr. Guetschow’s police union were unsuccessful.

In 2021, Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin signed a package of bills involving the use of force, including a bill prohibiting the use of chokeholds by law enforcement. But even without this legislation, Mr. Guetschow’s actions constitute excessive force, Mr. DeVinney said.

“I want to see this officer get charged, because if it was me or another parent or any adult that put their knee on a kid, that would be abuse,” Mr. Perez said. “Why does that make him any different?”

Mr. DeVinney said that the family intends to bring a lawsuit against Mr. Guetschow, the police department and the school district. The family is also working to get the police department to dismiss a charge of disorderly conduct against the student.

In a statement a few days after the incident, the department said that it was “investigating the incident in its entirety while being cautious not to make conclusions based off a small piece of information shared on social media.”

The school district declined to comment pending possible litigation.

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