Lawsuit claims JCPS and LMPD knew officer had abused multiple ki - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Lawsuit claims JCPS and LMPD knew officer had abused multiple kids

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Jonathan Hardin (Source: Metro Corrections) Jonathan Hardin (Source: Metro Corrections)
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- The parents of a 13-year-old have filed a lawsuit against a Louisville Metro Police school resource officer, claiming he used an “unauthorized choke hold” on the teen on Jan. 27, leaving the juvenile unconscious.

The lawsuit, which names Officer John Hardin, the city and the Jefferson County Board of Education as defendants, alleges police had been made aware of at least five other incidents in which Hardin used “excessive force and abusive behavior” towards students at Olmsted Academy North and previously at Moore Traditional School.

The suit, filed Friday in Jefferson Circuit Court, also claims LMPD employees recommended the department not hire Hardin after they completed a background check when he applied for the job.

"If what we've heard is true, it reflects a shocking disregard for the safety of these students," said attorney Thomas Clay, who is representing the teen's family.

The other allegations, according to Clay:

* Slamming a student into a chair and threatening to put the juvenile in his trunk in May 2014. Hardin is also accused of threatening to arrest the juvenile's mother for complaining about the incident.;

* Putting a student into a "full nelson" last summer.

* Punching a student in the chest on two occasions in September.

* Yanking a student out of his desk in November, taking him in the hallway and handcuffing him behind his back. Harding then allegedly pushed the student over a railing in a stairwell. In December, Hardin allegedly slammed the student's face against a concrete wall. When the mother arrived at school and complained, Hardin threatened to arrest her.

* Pushing and punching a 13-year-old last month who Hardin believed was cutting line.

Hardin was arrested earlier this month on charges he assaulted two 13-year-olds in January. Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad suspended Hardin without pay, calling the allegations "egregious."

Hardin, 31, was a school resource officer at Olmsted Academy North Middle School but has since been removed.

On Jan. 22, Hardin is accused of pushing a 13-year-old "without justification" and then punching him on belief the teen had cut lunch line, according to one arrest citation. Hardin then filed charges against the teen for menacing and resisting arrest, "based on facts he knew to be false," according to the criminal complaint.

The teen was treated at Kosair Children's Hospital for his injuries.

The lawsuit claims video of this incident was provided to police and JCPS within 48 hours but they “failed to take any corrective actions to protect other students.”

Mandy Simpson, a spokesperson for JCPS, said they could not comment on pending litigation.

Alicia Smiley, a spokesperson for LMPD, also said the department couldn't comment.

Attorney Brian Butler, who represents Hardin, said "it's too early for us to comment on any of these matters, but we find the timing of these alleged past incidents questionable." Hardin has pleaded not guilty.

The teen in the lawsuit, identified only by initials, went unconscious within six seconds after being put in a choke hold, according to the suit and police reports. After the teen regained consciousness, Hardin allegedly handcuffed the juvenile.

Instead of calling for emergency assistance, Hardin is accused of keeping the teen out of class for the rest of the day and then driving him home, failing to “accurately” tell juvenile's parents what happened, according to the suit.

Dr. William Smock, a forensic examiner, examined the teen and concluded Hardin's conduct created "grave risk", according to the police citation. Smock also concluded the "unauthorized choke hold" caused the 13-year-old to lose blood flow to the brain, resulting in "anoxic injury."

Police and JCPS should have known about Hardin's past conduct and taken action to protect students, the suit claims.

The suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a trial by jury.

Hardin is charged with official misconduct, felony and misdemeanor assault, wanton endangerment and false swearing. The police reports claim Hardin violated LMPD use of force procedures.

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