Teen says he tapped LMPD officer on shoulder while being choked - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Teen says he tapped LMPD officer on shoulder while being choked because he 'couldn't breathe'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A 13-year-old told investigators that he tapped a Louisville Metro Police officer's shoulder in an attempt to get the officer to release him from a choke hold on January 22 because he “couldn't breathe,” according to recently released court records.

The teen told police on Feb. 2 that after he playfully pushed former Louisville Metro Police Officer Jonathan Hardin in the hallway of Olmsted Academy North in January, Hardin fell and then picked the teen up by his neck and choked him.

“Everything happened so fast,” the middle-schooler told police, saying his sight went “blurry” and he remembers coming to on the hallway floor, with Hardin hovering over him. “I was asking him why was I on the ground, because I thought we were still playing.”

The teen said he and Hardin had a playful relationship but admitted he bumped the officer too hard, causing him to fall. At times during the interview with police, the teen said that he either couldn't breathe or struggled to breathe while being choked.

Hardin, who had been a Jefferson County Public School resource officer, has been charged with assaulting two 13-year-olds in separate incidents in January at Olmstead. He has pleaded not guilty. An interview with the 13-year-old, his mother and a surveillance video of the choking incident were released in court records last week.

While on the hallway floor, the teen said he told Hardin he was only playing around with him, but the officer replied that he was trying to tell another student to pull up his pants when the 13-year-old knocked him down.

"He was mad; he said he wasn't playing at that time," the teen told police of Hardin's reaction. "It looked like steam was coming out of his ears."

But the teen also told police he hoped that the incident didn't cause problems for him or Hardin.

After choking the teen, Hardin handcuffed him and they went to the school's administration office where Hardin offered the student water and a tissue to wipe away tears, the boy told police. Hardin then had a closed door meeting with a school official, the student told police.

Later, Hardin played the student a song on a piano in the school's auditorium and talked with him about the responsibilities of being a man and the teen's goal of growing up to be a police officer, according to the interview.  Hardin allegedly told the teen he was not in any trouble as he was a good kid and didn't mean to hurt the officer.

After the teen calmed down, Hardin took him home and the boy said he told his family about the incident.

“I felt bad because my son should have never put his hands on him,” the mother told investigators on Feb. 2.

The teen's mother told police that Hardin called her that day saying there was an “altercation” at school but everything was okay and he would bring the student home. The mother said she was not told the teen was choked or lost consciousness.

Dr. William Smock, a forensic examiner, later determined the child had been strangled and told police the “child's brain had been deprived of oxygen.”

Five days before the choking incident, Hardin allegedly pushed a 13-year-old "without justification" and then punched him on belief the teen had cut lunch line, according to an 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 incident was captured on school surveillance video.

Hardin was fired on March 20 for violating the department's use of force policy.

More: Complete coverage of Jonathan Hardin's case can be found here

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