DENVER (CBS4) - A medically-retired Denver police officer is asking schools to impose consequences for students who choose to walk out during class.
John Adsit was one of four officers on bicycles who were hit by an out-of-control driver during an East High School police protest on Dec. 3, 2014.
The officers were on crowd control, protecting students walking down the middle of East Colfax Avenue in protest regarding the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri when the accident occurred.
According to Adsit, he and fellow officers were called to the protest route in a last minute effort to protect students who were breaking the law in a school walkout that the school facilitated.
The driver, suffering from an apparent medical condition, dragged Adsit for half of a block underneath the car. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital with critical injuries.
More than three years after the crash that nearly took his life, Adsit is putting out a call to action to prevent school walkouts from hurting anyone else.
"There was a line crossed between the freedom of expression that we all as Americans have, and violating the law," Adsit said of the students who were not on the sidewalk. "Had there been better communication between the schools, between the city, and between the Denver Police Department, and a permit even had been pulled, there would have been better coordination and thus better safety."
Saturday, Adsit took to social media, sharing the letter he wrote to Douglas County Schools, where three of his four children attend. His two middle children attend Douglas County High School.
Students there are planning to walk out as part of a national protest against gun violence on Wednesday March 14 in the wake of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's shooting in February.
Erin Kane, Douglas County School District's interim superintendent reached out to parents with a video on Youtube saying schools will supervise high school students who choose to participate:
"We respect the voices of the students who want to walk out," Kane said.
Adsit said that while he also respects students' freedom of speech, the school's approach is not enough. He wants to see more planning to keep kids and officers safe.
"They really just need to have a comprehensive plan as to how they're going to safely orchestrate this and make sure there are going to be consequences if students decide to violate the law," he said.
A Douglas County Schools spokesperson said administrators expect high school students in the upcoming walkout to remain on campus. The spokesperson also said the walkouts are student-driven, and that the district is working closely with local law enforcement and school security to keep students safe.
Adsit's full letter:
I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is John Adsit and I am a retired Denver police officer. I currently have two children who attend Douglas County High School and I have some serious concerns regarding the upcoming walkouts on March 14th. I have viewed your video regarding how the School District plans to handle these potential walkouts.
First and foremost, my deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the 17 victims who were mercilessly killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14th of 2018. Their lives and legacies will NEVER be forgotten.
A little over three years ago, I was almost killed, and several of my partners were injured (physically and mentally) because of a "Walkout Protest" from a high school here in Colorado. Although the protest at that time was focused on the actions of the police (as it related to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri), the school's administration facilitated this non-permitted, chaotic, unorganized, dangerous and life-threatening walkout. As an American, father and sworn law enforcement officer, I gladly did my job that day to protect each student and teacher who walked out of that high school on December 3, 2014.
However, their right to "freedom of expression" should not have included allowing these young people (many of whom were minors) to "take" the city streets and walk illegally down the middle of them. A few of these students even began jumping on an occupied police vehicle—placing the officer inside at great risk. On that day, the police were ordered to simply conduct traffic control and not arrest or cite those violating the law. This day would have turned out differently if these students and teachers had just been willing to walk on the sidewalk and obey traffic signals.
On March 14th, if Douglas County students (as well as students across the nation) want to protest the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, I do not have an issue with that. However, I (as a father and critically-injured, medically-retired police officer) do have a serious problem with school administrators allowing young children (again many being minors) to walk out of school and protest without having a comprehensive security plan in place. This plan should include working with local law enforcement, school security and student organizers beforehand so that students are aware that no illegal actions will be tolerated and that EVERYONE'S safety is the highest priority.
There is no doubt in my mind that our incredible men and women of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Castle Rock Police Department will be working diligently that day (as they and all law enforcement officers do every day) to keep our children safe.
I would still be protecting students and the community today if students knew that there would be consequences to any illegal action – to include illegally walking down the middle of the street. Thank God that on the day I was almost killed, the driver of the vehicle that hit and dragged me underneath for half a block, turned the wheel of his car to the right, instead of to the left. Had that driver uncontrollably turned his vehicle to the left, untold harm would have come to countless students who were protesting in the middle of the street.
Douglas County Schools, PLEASE do not place our children, your students and our law enforcement personnel in harm's way on March 14th. Learn from the mistakes made by others that almost cost me my life.
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