Friday, October 17, 2008 | 8:41 p.m. CDT;
updated 11:23 a.m. CST, Monday, November 17, 2008
— The Columbia Police Department's Professional Standards Unit is investigating a fight that occurred at Hickman High School on Wednesday, according to a news release sent Friday evening.
Hickman Resource Officer Mark Brotemarkle is under investigation by
the Columbia Police Department with cooperation from Columbia Public
Schools after a fight that occurred around noon Wednesday in the old
Brotemarkle is being investigated for his involvement in the disturbance.
The incident led to two student arrests. Until the investigation is
complete, Brotemarkle will not be at Hickman, Principal Mike Jeffers
said. The decision to remove Brotemarkle from the position was made by the Columbia Police Department.
"It's difficult to ask for calm and patience when it appears that conclusions are so easy to come to based on seconds of video," Capt. Tom Dresner said in the news release.
"He (Officer Mark Brotemarkle) has the support of the staff, and has on many occasions prevented small problems from becoming big ones...I can assure you that a thorough and impartial investigation will be conducted," said Dresner in the release.
The police department could not be reached for further comment.
The Missourian received a phone call Thursday night that a video of the fight had
been posted on YouTube. The video has since been removed, but the 15-year-old sophomore who shot and posted the video did not remove it herself.
"I was told by my friends that they couldn't find it. I didn't take it down myself," the girl said. The girl's mother asked that her daughter remain anonymous, afraid for her daughter's safety at school.
Mirts, Hickman athletic and activities director, and Brotemarkle were unaware of the video until asked about it this
morning. Jeffers said concerns about the police behavior were brought to him by parents.
On Thursday, police began an investigation into the fight. The Columbia Police
Department told Jeffers the investigation would continue on
Friday, according to Jeffers. Brotemarkle was at Hickman on Friday
morning around 9:30.
Hickman staff were notified through an intranet e-mail about the investigation and the video, Jeffers said.
The student who recorded the video said she started recording because that is what others have previously done during fights.
"Because when people fight you naturally want to take pictures. I just happened to have my camera and started recording," the girl said, adding that the fight began after the two girls returned from lunch.
girls began arguing, and one said she wanted to fight. The other swung
and missed, and the first girl then hit the other twice.
cause of the fight has not been revealed, but it is rumored to be related to a longtime dispute between the two students that has lasted
more than a year, said Ray Magruder, founder of the Rising Star Sports Association and a mentor to one of the girls shown in the video, Diamond Thrower.
Thrower, a sophomore, along with school staff members and police, stepped
in to try to break up the fight. At that point, the student who posted the video
began recording the incident.
officers, Sgt. Alan Mitchell and Brotemarkle, responded. Assistant
Principal Denise Herndon also responded. Officer Shelly Johnson was on
the east side of the building and responded after the fight broke out,
there are two resource officers at Hickman. There is an additional
officer during lunch because students have off-campus lunch and it is a high-traffic
the video, Diamond Thrower, the student in the yellow shirt, was
thrown to the ground and handcuffed. Thrower had been trying to mediate
the fight and was not personally involved, Magruder said.
Magruder also said Thrower had been taken to the hospital for
neck and back problems Wednesday night. She did not attend school
Thursday or Friday due to continued pain, Magruder said.
was vigorously attacked," Magruder said. "She was the first one to be
thrown and handcuffed. She's a good kid and was only trying to stop the
Stephens, a Hickman parent, was checking her daughter into school
shortly after the fight occurred. Stephens said she saw Brotemarkle
push a girl down the hallway.
According to Stephens, the girl was
telling Brotemarkle to "stop putting your hands on me." The girl was
also on a cell phone with her mom crying, saying, "Please come and get
me. I don't want to be here."
also said her daughter had been questioned about her involvement in the
fight by Brotemarkle, even though her daughter was not present at the
time of the fight.
spoke with Wanda Brown, assistant superintendent for secondary
education, and had a meeting Thursday with Jeffers and Preston Bass, coordinator of safety and security for Hickman. She filed a complaint with internal affairs at the school district Thursday
addition to concerns about Brotemarkle's aggressive behavior, Stephens
said other parents are also concerned he targets African-American students.
"I stand on that and I believe that. Others may not feel that way, but I feel that way," Stephens said.
Stephens is also collecting signatures for a petition. As of 5 p.m. Friday she had 43 parent and student signatures.
said the fight on Wednesday was not the first time she heard of
problems. She has personally had incidents where Brotemarkle was three to four inches away from her
felt threatened by him. He spoke in a very firm voice when it wasn't
necessary. If I felt threatened, I can only image how the students
feel," Stephens said.
also said other parents and students had told her of more experiences
with Brotemarkle. She has previously filed police reports but has not
been contacted about any action that was taken.
"The accountability is not there in the police department, but I believe it can be," Magruder said.