LMPD officer accused of assaulting students

LMPD officer accused of student assault
Published: Feb. 4, 2015 at 4:08 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 21, 2015 at 3:08 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville Metro police officer who worked as a Jefferson County Public School student resource officer is facing serious charges.

Jonathan Hardin, 31, a sworn LMPD officer who worked as a school resource officer at Olmstead Academy North, is accused of assaulting two students at the school on two days in January. According to the warrant, both incidents are captured on surveillance video.

[PREVIOUS STORY: School resource officer arrested after allegedly beating two 13-year-old boys]

The first incident, according to his arrest warrant, took place Jan. 22 when he allegedly hit a 13-year-old student in the face with a closed fist, knocking him to the floor.

The reason? According to paperwork filed, the student cut in line in the cafeteria.

The school resource officer cited the student with menacing and resisting arrest.

Five days later, on Jan. 27, Hardin was accused of putting a 13-year-old in a choke hold, causing him to lose consciousness. He later allegedly handcuffed the student instead of getting him medical treatment then drove him home not telling his parents what happened.

Dr. Bill Smock concluded the choke hold caused a brain injury to the student creating a great risk of death to the child.

"They're very serious charges," said Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, "One of them carries 10 to 20 years in the penitentiary, it's assault first degree."

Clay said the current charges against the officer are consistent with what his clients experienced in the summer of 2014, when Hardin was working at the Gentleman's Academy, a program that was a joint effort between LMPD and the University of Louisville.

Clay is suing Hardin, Officer Clayton Reeves and Colonel Yvette Gentry on behalf of a 14-year-old and his mother.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Complaint filed against LMPD officers involved in troubled boy's summer camp] 

"I'm taken back, but I'm not surprised" said former program mental health director Erica Buckner. "The behavior is going to continue," she said, "it's a pattern."

Buckner was working at Gentleman's Academy when she said students contacted her about the officer's behavior and said when she spoke up about incidents - like the 14-year-old allegedly being grabbed by the neck out of bed at 3 a.m. and forced to do pushups for hours without water - she was dismissed from the clinical psychology program.

She said while she was punished for speaking up about the alleged abuse, the officers were not reprimanded.

"It's very discouraging to see that this case is out there and children are being abused at the hands of public servants," she said, "servants that are supposed to serve and protect."

Buckner is appealing that decision by the University of Louisville. JCPS is only saying that Hardin was removed as school resource officer on Monday.

Among the charges he's facing are first degree assault and wanton endangerment. Hardin bonded out of jail Tuesday night and is due in court Friday.

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