School officer disciplined

A Richmond County school police officer has been disciplined for applying excessive force to a female student who was handcuffed.

Officer David Barrios has been suspended for 20 days without pay, is on probation for the remainder of the school year and will be reassigned for his actions at the Academy of Richmond County on Aug. 30, Superintendent Dana Bedden said on Monday.

A letter of reprimand will also be placed in the officer's personnel file.

"While I believe, (the student) acted inappropriately, the facts indicate that at no time did she show threatening or aggressive behavior towards you or any other employee or students, as witnessed by others, which would warrant such strong enforcement action on your part," Dr. Bedden said in the letter.

The officer said he hadn't seen the letter when reached at home for comment.

According to the reprimand, the student instigated one of several fights that broke out on campus, and Officer Barrios handcuffed her after she refused to leave.

He then brought her into the school's administrative offices, where teachers and students witnessed him press her against a wall, put her on the floor and "continued to aggressively control her" as she tried to move around, the letter said.

The officer ignored attempts by a teacher and students to intervene in what they perceived to be unnecessary handling of the student, and then he pulled out his baton.

"After the situation seemed to be calming down, you finally sprayed your pepper spray without warning, in the confined space of the office for no valid reason," the letter said.

Two employees suffered "side effects" as a result of the pepper spray, the letter said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.