Zachary Christensen has resigned from the Farmington Police Department in New Mexico after a video showed him using excessive force to restrain an 11-year-old girl, a sixth-grader. Following the incident, Christensen has faced intense scrutiny over his actions.
At the time of the incident, Christensen was working at the Mesa View Middle School. Christensen claimed the girl had stood up on the bus, took too many milks during lunch, and had picked at a sign that was on a classroom door. He had also claimed that she assaulted the principal, though after further investigation, that turned out to be false.
In the video, he can be heard threatening her after spotting her trying to remove the school sign, saying, “If you destroy it, it’s called criminal damage to property. Yeah, you’re going to go to jail for 50 cents. Yeah, plus resisting, plus disrupting the education process.”
In response to the girl’s behavior, Christensen is seen in the video grabbing at her arms, pushing her and slamming her down on the ground. The girl is crying throughout the incident and can be heard saying, “I’m not resisting. Get off of me – you’re hurting me.”
Officials can also be heard telling Christensen to let the student stand up. “She is not a threat to yourself or others at this moment,” one says. “You are not going to use excessive force to get this done.”
“We’re not excessive,” Christensen replies in the video, which was taken on his lapel camera.
Christensen had previously been cited for “violating police department policies” and began working at the school after more than a decade with the police department.
The girl, whose name has not been released publicly, suffered “a mild concussion and scrapes and bruises,” said Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe.
Christensen has since resigned and left his job on October 1 following an investigation into the incident. Additionally, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Bladeras has said they would be investigating. The girls’ family is also reportedly filing a lawsuit.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.