Kenosha officer accused of kneeling on girl's neck resigns from school district

The officer is currently on desk duty with the police department.

March 23, 2022, 5:48 PM

A police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, resigned from his off-duty role at the local school district amid an investigation into the tactics he used to restrain a young girl while stopping a fight in which she was involved.

Officer Shawn Guetschow, who was working part-time as a security officer for the Kenosha Unified School District, came under fire after a viral video appeared to show him putting his knee on the neck of a 12-year-old girl at Lincoln Middle School on March 4, while trying to stop a fight.

Guetschow resigned from his role with the school district on March 15, Tanya Ruder, chief communications officer for the Kenosha Unified School District, confirmed to ABC News.

Kenosha police Lt. Joseph Nosalik confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that Guetschow is still employed by the police department and is currently on desk duty amid the investigation.

PHOTO: An off-duty police officer is pictured responding to a fight between two students at Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, Wis., on March 4, 2022.
An off-duty police officer is pictured responding to a fight between two students at Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, Wis., on March 4, 2022, in a still image from video taken by a student. While stopping the fight, the officer appeared to kneel on the neck of a 12 year-old girl, prompting a police investigation.
Courtesy of student at Lincoln Middle School

In his resignation letter, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News, Guetschow cited the "mental and emotional strain" that the public attention surrounding the incident has brought on his family, as well as what he says is "the lack of communication and or support" that he has received from the district.

The incident was the subject of a heated discussion at the school board meeting on Tuesday, with some community members calling for the district to suspend its contract with the Kenosha Police Department, while others argued that police officers are needed in school to keep students safe.

The 12-year-old girl’s father, Jerrel Perez, spoke out against the officer’s tactics in a press conference last week and called for criminal charges to be filed against him.

"She's humiliated. She's traumatized. Every day I gotta hear, 'Daddy, I don't wanna go to school,'" Perez said Wednesday.

"It breaks me, because I wasn't there to help her," he added. "I felt helpless."

PHOTO: Jerrel Perez, father of a 12-year old girl who allegedly had an off-duty police officer place his knee on her neck while breaking up a fight at Lincoln Middle School, speaks during a press conference in Kenosha, Wisc., March 16, 2022.
Jerrel Perez, father of a 12-year old girl who allegedly had an off-duty police officer place his knee on her neck while breaking up a fight at Lincoln Middle School, speaks during a press conference in Kenosha, Wisc., March 16, 2022.
WISN

A charge of disorderly conduct was referred to juvenile court for both students involved in the fight, police told ABC News.

Attorney Drew DeVinney, who represents the girl and her father, said during a press conference Wednesday that the family plans to take legal action against the police and the school soon.

Ruder told ABC News that the Kenosha Unified School District could not provide any more information.

"As it appears that this incident may lead to litigation, the district will provide no further details at this time," she said.

PHOTO: An off-duty police officer responds to a fight between two students at Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, Wis., on March 4, 2022, in a still image from video. The officer appeared to kneel on the neck of a student, prompting an investigation.
An off-duty police officer is pictured responding to a fight between two students at Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, Wis., on March 4, 2022, in a still image from video taken by a student. While stopping the fight, the officer appeared to kneel on the neck of a 12 year-old girl, prompting a police investigation.
Courtesy of student at Lincoln Middle School

A video of the incident taken by one of the students at the school was obtained by ABC News and shows the officer responding to a fight between two students during lunch time in the cafeteria.

The 12-year-old girl, whose name has not been revealed as she is a minor, pushes the officer, and then he pins her to the ground amid shouting from students who have gathered to watch.

The clip is 10 seconds long, and it is unclear what happened before or after.

"We continue our investigation, paying careful attention to the entire scope of the incident. We have no further update at this time," the Kenosha Police Department said in a statement Saturday.

Last week, the Kenosha Unified School District released a redacted version of school surveillance video of the incident.

In the video, Guetschow pushes the girl’s head to the ground and then appears to kneel on her neck for over 20 seconds.

PHOTO: Jerrel Perez (r) is joined by supporters during a press conference in Kenosha, Wisc., March 16, 2022.
Jerrel Perez (r), father of a 12-year old girl who allegedly had an off-duty police officer place his knee on her neck while breaking up a fight at Lincoln Middle School, is joined by supporters during a press conference in Kenosha, Wisc., March 16, 2022.
WISN

Perez expressed outrage over the police officer’s tactics and compared the image to George Floyd, the Minnesota man who was killed when a police officer placed a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Amid a push for police reform after Floyd’s death, Wisconsin banned the use of police chokeholds in June 2021 except in life-threatening situations or in situations where police officers have to defend themselves. Chokeholds include various police neck restraints.

DeVinney told ABC News earlier this month that the girl "suffered injuries to her head and neck and is currently receiving medical treatment."

He said that since chokeholds have been banned in Wisconsin, the "incident should never have occurred."

"The family hopes to find out why this happened, so that it does not happen again to anyone else’s child," he added.

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