HOUSTON - She stands 4 feet 10 inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds, and claims she was tackled by three police officers at a high school because she wouldn't hand over her cellphone. The alleged incident, which was recorded by a fellow student, was posted to Instagram and has lit up social media with controversy.
The video, which has gone viral after being shared on multiple sites, appears to show a female student, Ixel Perez, being held on the ground by three police officers at Sam Houston High School. Perez was screaming loudly in the video as the officers restrained her, and one of them appeared to have put his knee on her head.
Perez said it all started because she refused to give her cellphone to an assistant principal who demanded it. She said the only reason she disobeyed the order is because she was concerned about her disabled mother.
Perez's mother, Gladys Santos, has kidney problems and receives dialysis treatment. When her husband could not find her, he became worried and called his daughter.
"I checked my phone, that's the only reason I got sent out of class by my reading teacher. And my reading teacher was talking to me and the AP comes into the conversation and just said ‘Give me your phone, give me your phone,'" Perez described. "I did not want to give her my phone because I was still worried about my mama."
Perez walked away and ignored the administrators and that's when the cops were called. Just as Perez reached her mom, she was confronted by the officers.
"I walked downstairs and there were two cops coming up in front of me and a cop from behind me," Perez said. "The cop behind me pulled my jacket back."
Perez said she tried to tell them she was talking to her mother, but they told her they did not care.
"I didn't want to let go of my phone so they like, pinned me down to the floor," she said. "One of them was behind me, like on my legs and trying to put the handcuffs on. It hurt a lot. And the other cop has his knee on my head, all his weight on me, and I was screaming because it hurt so much. I was crying because I thought I was going to get in trouble with my mom."
Perez's mother only heard screaming.
"When I was talking to her, she was screaming and I didn't hear nothing no more so I drive to the school and I find police got her in the throat to try to get the phone away," Santos said.
The mother and daughter said they both realize a rule was broken, but feel things should have been handled differently.
"It was way too much, everybody knows that. I'm only 4 foot 10 and it took three cops just because I did not want to give up my phone," Perez said. "One day it's going to be like an accident where they hurt somebody or they really do kill somebody and say it was an accident, and then, they are not going to tell the real side of the story."
The altercation between Perez and the officers was captured on video and students posted it on social media using the hashtag #FreeSamHouston.
Perez was surprised to learn the video was posted on Instagram and by the outpouring of support she received. Students rallied for her Wednesday morning, displaying signs of support.
Perez has been suspended until Friday, and her mother says they are still having problems with school staff.
"Yesterday I tried to take her out of this school, looking for another school, but police came in there and kicked me out," Santos said. She said they threatened to take her to jail if she did not leave.
The mother wants immediate changes.
"I want the police out and the police to stop abusing our kids," Santos said. "The assistant principal and the principal; they are the ones that have started all this in the school with the new rules. I understand she break the rules, but they have to understand that students have problems, too. Teenagers have problems, too. They went too far."
HISD released the following statement:
The safety of our students at Sam Houston High School and of all our schools is always our absolute top priority. We are aware of this issue and investigating.
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