Second lawsuit filed against former LMPD officer accused of assa - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Second lawsuit filed against former LMPD officer accused of assaulting students

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The parents of a 13-year-old have filed the second lawsuit against a former Louisville Metro Police school resource officer charged with assaulting two teens at Olmsted Academy North in January.

The federal lawsuit, which names Officer Jonathan Hardin, the city and the Jefferson County Board of Education as defendants, alleges Hardin punched the teen “without justification” on Jan. 22, knocking him to the ground.

Hardin believed, according to the suit, that the teen was cutting the lunch line. The officer handcuffed the teen after knocking him down.

According to the lawsuit, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad was shown a school surveillance video of the alleged assault within 48 hours and the department was aware of at least four other prior excessive force incidents involving students and Hardin.

Still, Hardin remained a school resource officer at Olmsted and on Jan. 27, he used an “unauthorized choke hold” on another 13-year-old, leaving the juvenile unconscious, according to a second lawsuit filed in February.

Hardin is charged with official misconduct, felony and misdemeanor assault, wanton endangerment and false swearing in the incidents involving the two teens. He was fired on March 20, according to Alicia Smiley, a spokesperson for LMPD.

In his March 20 termination letter, Conrad said Hardin violated the department's use of policy when he struck the teen in the face on Jan. 22 "after he failed to respond to commands given to him from you." Hardin acknowledged he could have used another option besides physical force, according to the findings.

Conrad also said there is "no way to justify" Hardin's Jan. 27 use of a choke hold, which "jeopardized the teen's life. The use of force in both incidents was unwarranted and "brought discredit" upon the department, Conrad concluded.

The lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court, claim police had been made aware of at several other incidents in which Hardin used “excessive force and abusive behavior” towards students at Olmsted and previously at Moore Traditional School.

The suits also claim LMPD employees recommended the department not hire Hardin after they completed a background check when he applied for the job. Police have declined to comment while the cases are pending.

And the suits claim the school system and police failed to take action to protect students from Hardin.

A video of the Jan. 27 incident played in court last month shows Hardin put his arm around the teen's neck and lifted him off the ground. In about six seconds, the child's feet stopped kicking and he appeared to lose consciousness.

When Hardin let go of the child, the teen fell to the floor, hitting his head and remaining still for about 20 seconds, the video showed. The teen stayed on the ground for about five minutes with Hardin hovering above him before the officer handcuffed him.

That felony assault case has been waived to the Jefferson County grand jury. The other assault case is a misdemeanor.

The other allegations against Hardin, according to Thomas Clay, attorney for the teen who was choked:

* 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. Hardin 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.

In the Jan. 22 incident, Hardin is accused of filing charges against the teen for menacing and resisting arrest, "based on facts he knew to be false," according to a criminal complaint. The teen is identified only by his initials in the lawsuit.

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

JCPS officials have said they can not comment on pending litigation.

Hardin has pleaded not guilty.

Both suits are seeking unspecified monetary damages and a trial by jury.

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