Officer accused of assaulting students had been praised for work with youth

Published: Feb. 9, 2015 at 12:14 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2015 at 12:14 AM EST
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Jonathan Hardin (Source: LMPD)
Jonathan Hardin (Source: LMPD)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Louisville Metro police officer who is accused of assaulting two students had previously been praised for his "excellent" work with youth in the community, according to his personnel file.

Officer Jonathan Hardin was arrested and suspended without pay after reports of two assaults in January at Olmsted Academy North, where he worked as a resource officer until being removed on Feb. 2. He was arrested the next day.

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Arrest warrants for Hardin allege that he hit one student with a closed fist, knocking him to the floor, and choked another student until he lost consciousness. Both students were 13 years old. The warrants say the incidents were caught on surveillance video.

In 2013, Hardin was commended by the department for his work with the Gentleman's Academy summer program, a joint effort between LMPD and the University of Louisville, which was designed to help students learn conflict resolution. He and a number of other officers with the program received the Distinguished Community Service award from the department.

Erica Buckner, a psychologist who worked for Gentleman's Academy said she was kicked out of the clinical pyschology program at UofL after she reported students' allegations about Hardin's behavior and the behavior of other officers. She said she was told she had "ruined the relationship" between LMPD and UofL.

Thomas Clay, a Louisville attorney, said his clients - a 14-year-old boy and his mother - are suing Hardin and other officers for incidents that allegedly occurred during the summer of 2014 at the same program.

In 2012, Hardin was also commended for his work with an LMPD youth program, which he helped to coordinate in his time off, "going above and beyond the call of the duty," the commendation says.

In August 2012, the department received a letter from a citizen praising Hardin for his handling of an "out of control" child. He handled the situation with "grace, perception dignity and smarts, defusing what could have potentially become a very nasty incident," the letter says. "I for one am grateful he was there."

Hardin only had two minor reprimands in his file. One was for missing a court date and the other for losing his badge.

He now faces two counts of assault, one first-degree and the other fourth-degree. Additionally, he is charged with wanton endangerment, official misconduct and false swearing.

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