ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The school resource officer who body-slammed an Auburn High School student in 2021 will not face charges after the case was reviewed by the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The family claimed the student, Parris Moore, then 14, was left brain-damaged by the incident.
“In the days after the incident, myself and two other Assistant State’s Attorneys reviewed video footage of the incident. Based upon this initial review, I did not believe further investigative actions were warranted with respect to Officer (Bradley) Lauer’s actions,” State’s Attorney J. Hanley wrote in his review of the case. “I find that no charges are warranted against Officer Lauer, based upon his actions on September 21st, 2021.
A Chicago attorney, Al Hofeld Jr., filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Rockford Public Schools, alleging that Moore was walking in the hallway when he was approached by Assistant Principal Scott Dimke.
According to the State’s Attorney’s decision, Lauer was called to respond to an altercation between Dimke and Moore in the main hallway.
Dimke is quoted as saying that he attempted to speak with Moore after the bell had rung, but Moore ignored him. Dimke was able to get Moore into a side restroom as the altercation escalated, “for the sake of other students and staff.”
A witness told investigators that Moore “became more physical, wrapping his arms around Mr. Dimke’s legs, similar to how a football player would when attempting to tackle an opponent.”
Lauer said in his statement that when he arrived, he saw Dimke and Moore “wrestling” in the doorway to the faculty bathroom. Both combatants fell to the ground and Lauer said he “was concerned that either Dimke or P.M. would be injured from the physical altercation with was becoming out of control.”
Lauer subdued the student by placing him in a bear hug from behind, but said that Moore continued to struggle and he “pulled him down to the left simultaneously and we fell together to the floor.”
Surveillance video of the incident appears to show Lauer body slamming Moore to the ground.
The witness said, “The forward lean of the student caused his head to hit the ground first along with Officer Lauer’s force causing his left shoulder to hit the ground. The Officer immediately asked me to call the nurse.”
All witnesses interviewed verified that Lauer identified himself as a police officer and instructed Moore to stop fighting.
At the time of the incident, Moore stood 4-11 and weighed between 125 and 130 pounds. Lauer was over 6 feet and weighed between 200 and 210, the complaint says.
Hofeld claims Lauer’s use of force was excessive and caused Moore a traumatic brain injury and permanent brain damage. The boy suffers from PTSD, ADHD, and various neurological issues, Hofeld’s filing says.
A forensic examination of the incident and the surveillance footage was conducted by Force Science Consulting, which analyzes police use of force in compliance with the law, and found that Lauer’s takedown of Moore was “inadvertently…subverted by PM’s attempt to pull away from and resist the takedown.”
“A criminal prosecution of Officer Lauer for battery (aggravated or otherwise) would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Lauer was not legally justified in using force against P.M.,” Hanely wrote in his decision.
“Based on the evidence reviewed and the applicable legal standards, no criminal charges will be brought against Officer Lauer,” he concluded.
Lauer is still on the force with the Rockford Police Department, but not in the position of School Resource Officer.
Hofeld issued a statement Thursday afternoon on behalf of the family, saying, “The school video clearly shows a large officer body slamming a short, thin child to the floor after the boy was already restrained. That was an intentional or reckless act by the officer that is chargeable as a crime. Given the clarity of the video, it is highly disappointing that State’s Attorney Hanley chose to exercise his prosecutorial discretion in favor of the officer, not the child. All public officials have a sacred duty to ensure the law protects children, even though they don’t vote.”