School officials investigating Natchez High student fight, officer response captured on videos

Published 11:19 am Tuesday, January 16, 2024

NATCHEZ — School officials said they are aware of multiple videos circulated on social media involving a fight between Natchez High students and a resulting struggle between a student and employees and a school resource officer. The school district is investigating the matter, said Interim Superintendent Zandra McDonald-Green.

In one of the videos, it appears that one of the adults grabs and holds the student against an outside pillar by the neck. In another clip, the student is on the ground on his back with two adults holding him and it appears that the student and both adults are swinging fists. Green clarified that the adults involved are two school district employees and one is a school resource officer employed by Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

Green said that the district started an investigation on Friday and will continue once they return from the inclement weather.

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“Hopefully soon we will have a conclusive decision,” said, adding at this time the investigation is being conducted by the school district. Green said the investigation is to determine why the fight took place and whether the actions were appropriate or if excessive force had been used.

No outside agencies are currently involved in the investigation and would be involved only if necessary, she said.

As to whether any disciplinary action was taken, Green said, “I can’t comment” on student or personnel matters.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said the officer and other eyewitness statements he has heard indicate the student may have come after the officer first, who then tried to use the force necessary to subdue him.

“I would look at the entire situation after the investigation is done and then take action if necessary,” he said. “Right now, all I see is the short version recorded on a cell phone, and have not had a chance to review any footage that the school may have.”

Patten added that he’d heard, “Several individuals tried to stop that man from getting to the SRO because he was determined to get to that officer and attack him. But I can’t confirm or deny if that’s true or not.”

Patten said he has seen a lot of “heinous, violent crimes in this community committed by teens no more than 18 years old” and officers have to act accordingly based on the situation they’re faced with.

“I’m not surprised at the officer’s response. There is a very fine line between child and criminal these days. When you step up to a grown man or grown woman in uniform, the human instinct is always self-preservation. … When you cross over from child to adult by striking an officer, this will more than likely be the result. Officers had bruised noses and busted lips from that same incident. They were injured as well. Law enforcement will respect your child up to the point where they are being assaulted. Just like your child has the right to defend themselves, so do these officers. And they will use whatever force necessary to subdue the violators.”

The videos were posted within a day of the district sharing on social media Thursday that a “suspicious text message” circulated at the school prompted a law enforcement response.

School officials said the message involved rumors a “shooting was going happen,” whether at the school or in the community. Apart from law enforcement responding, no extra precautions were deemed necessary, as the new high school is secure without a lockdown, officials said.

Green said at this time she is uncertain if there is any correlation between the fight and the message that circulated the school on Thursday.