Security Guards' Confrontation With Students Prompts Protest

Security Guard Acted Violent, Uttered Epithets, Student Says

KNBC | September 28, 2007

PALMDALE, Calif. -- Parents and students at Knight High School protested Friday morning because of an incident in which three teenagers and a mother were arrested last Thursday after alercations with security guards, prompting an investigation into the guards' behavior.

The altercations were videotaped by students at a birthday celebration during the school's lunch hour. At some point, birthday cake was tossed around and landed on the floor, sparking a series of events.

A female student who is shown on the video being held down by a guard said she had dropped cake and bent down to clean it up. She said when the security guard told her to clean up part of the mess that had been overlooked, a verbal altercation erupted -- and quickly turned physical.

The security guard grabbed her by the arm as she headed out, the student said. She said the security guard was overzealous in twisting her arms and, despite her pleas, he broke her wrist, which was later put into a cast.

"He grabbed me by my arm and put my arm behind my back and pulled it up until it hurt," said student Pleajhai Mervin. "Then, he slammed me on the table."

The security guard called her a "nappy-head," Mervin said.

Mervin, who was later arrested and expelled from school, said that when the security guard realized the incident was being recorded, he tackled the other student taking the video. That male student was also arrested, and his sister was arrested when she saw him on the ground with the guard and tried to intervene, she said.

The male student has been incarcerated at a juvenile detention center, KNBC reported, because he was already on probation for robbery at the time of the incident.

After Mervin's mother, Latricia Majors, arrived at the school, she was arrested for allegedly battering the principal. Majors spent the evening in jail. Majors later said she hired an attorney from the Cochran firm and planned to sue the school district.

"I want justice for my daughter," Majors said. "The security guards who wronged her, I want them to be held accountable for their actions."

The Antelope Valley Union School District said in a statement: "A recent incident occurred... that has caused serious concern within the district and our community... an event that resulted in a physical confrontation between school staff and students.

"The district has launched an investigation... and an employee of the district has been placed on paid administrative leave."

The district's superintendent told KNBC that physical confrontation is always a last resort to maintain order.

District officials said the 25-year-old security guard has been with the district for two years.