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CBS 2 Investigators reveal a student was body-slammed by a school resource officer, and family says police, school tried to cover it up

Student was body-slammed by officer; family says school, police tried to cover it up
Student was body-slammed by officer; family says school, police tried to cover it up 06:39

ROCKFORD, Ill. (CBS) -- A family is fighting for answers and justice after a police officer slammed their teenage son to the ground in his high school.

Parris Moore suffered a fractured skull and permanent brain damage.

Parris was just two weeks into his freshman year at Auburn High School in Rockford last year. He had left his classroom and was wandering the hallway when this incident began. His grandmother, Diane Morgan, got a call to get to the school.

"I got out of the truck. I entered the school," Morgan said. "The officer approached me and informed me that there was a little struggle - Parris had slipped and fell and hit his head."

The incident began just after 9 a.m. Diane Morgan arrived at the school shortly after paramedics.

"I see my grandson sitting in a wheelchair, shaking so bad that it was just unreal," she said.

School security camera video shows Parris handcuffed in that wheelchair when his grandmother arrived.

"I was so angry that it just, I couldn't hardly take it. I was shaking myself," said Moore who, along with her grandson, are seen on the video wiping away tears.

She had no idea what really happened or the severity of her grandson's injuries.

"The boy could barely even walk to my car. He was shaking so bad," Morgan said. "I got him in the truck and proceeded to take him to hospital."

She says he was unsteady, had bruising on his body, and complained of knee pain. But it was his head that was really hurting. Hospital scans revealed the source of the head pain - a skull fracture.

"He could have instantly been dead, just like that," said Morgan.

Parris' mother, Stephene Moore, also was by his side.

"They traumatized him for the rest of his life," said Stephene Moore.

The family started demanding answers from the school staff.

"They just said that he was in the hall refusing to go back in his classroom," said Morgan.

She says Student Resource Officer Bradley Lauer, a Rockford police officer who had been detailed at the school, told her there was only a little struggle before Parris slipped and fell.

The family did not believe that or the school's account of what happened, given the size of the skull fracture. They demanded to see the school security video and hired an attorney.

A month later, the video was finally turned over and showed what really happened.

In the video, you can see Parris wandering the hallways when he was supposed to be in class. The assistant principal tries to stop him and grabs him. Parris tries to get away. Then Officer Lauer takes over.

He grabs Parris, lifts him up, and forces him head-first into the hard school floor. The 4-foot-11, 140-pound teen was knocked out cold.

His mother says it was hard to watch the video.

"My son laying there not being able to move at all," said Stephene Moore. "They're just digging through his pockets, and he's just a limp body laying there."

Al Hofeld Jr., the family's attorney, says the officer used excessive force.

"This officer used a deadly kind of force to take Parris down and knock him out cold, when that was totally unnecessary," said Hofeld. "He has a traumatic brain injury because of this incident. He has permanent brain damage in the areas of memory, speech."

The CBS 2 Investigators obtained federal data from the 2017-2018 school year, the most recent available. It shows Auburn High School referred students to police 72 times that year, resulting in 43 arrests. The data also reveal the school referred students more often to police than 94 percent of all other high schools in the nation.

"I feel that there is a way better way to handle it than what they did," said Morgan.

She says this was a school disciplinary matter, not a police matter. Far too often, student resource officers are used to deal with student behavioral issues - escalating situations instead of deescalating them.

Last year, the CBS 2 Investigators reported on Chicago student Dnigma Howard being dragged down the stairs at Marshall High School for talking on her cell phone. This also was done by a school resource officer.

Howard was repeatedly Tasered and then charged with a crime. The charges were dropped when video of the incident surfaced. She received a six-figure settlement from Chicago Public Schools.

Parris Moore also faced charges, but not right away. Not until two months later - after the family hired a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the school district and police. The family calls that retaliation.

"I think, they thought they was going to scare somebody to back off - and it's not working," said Morgan.

The Rockford school district and police department refused to comment on the head slam and treatment of Parris.

Attempts to reach the officer was unsuccessful.

The family's attorney says he's filing a lawsuit next week.

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