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‘Tussle’ between Somerville police officer and high school student under investigation

Somerville High School.CITY OF SOMERVILLE

A confrontation between a Somerville police officer and student at the city’s high school that ended with the teenager on the ground is under investigation by the department’s internal affairs unit, Chief Charles J. Femino said.

“Any use of force by a police officer is a serious matter,’' the chief said in a statement. “After a preliminary review of these circumstances, I have ordered the Professional Standards Office to begin an internal investigation.”

According to the chief, a uniformed officer joined the department’s juvenile officer at Somerville High School on Monday. Police had been asked to transport a student to their home due to a family emergency and the student’s mother had authorized police to shuttle the student in a police vehicle, the chief said.


“The juvenile initially agreed to travel with the officer home and willingly entered the Juvenile Officer’s vehicle,’' the chief wrote, adding that police used an unmarked police cruiser. “As the Juvenile Officer prepared to leave, a crowd of students gathered around the scene. One student opened the rear door in an attempt to encourage the juvenile to exit the vehicle.”

The uniformed officer approached the second student and ordered him to move away from the cruiser, something the student refused to do, the chief said.

The uniformed officer then approached that student, the chief said in the statement.

“The officer further approached the second juvenile, placed himself between the juvenile and the unmarked police cruiser, and physical contact and a tussle ensued that resulted in the officer bringing the juvenile to the ground,” the chief said.

Both the teenager and the officer then got back on their feet, but the physical confrontation was not over, the chief said, and “school staff stepped in to assist in deescalating the situation.”

A female student intervened and escorted the teenager away from the scene and the confrontation came to an end, according to police.


The internal affairs investigation is ongoing, the chief said.

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.