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Criminal Justice

Teenager Body Slammed By LA Sheriff’s Deputy Files Claim For Damages

Attorney Lisa Bloom speaks in front of microphones at a press conference to remove LA Sheriffs Deputies from Lancaster High. She has blonde should-length hair and is wearing a white short-sleeved dress. Behind her are parents and students, some of whom are holding protest signs.
Lisa Bloom (r), the family attorney, speaks alongside MiKayla Robinson (l) and her mother, Neesh Robinson (center), at a protest in September.
(Emily Elena Dugdale
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Lancaster High School student MiKayla Robinson has filed a claim for damages with the Antelope Valley Union High School District and Los Angeles County in response to the 16-year-old being body slammed at school by an L.A. Sheriff’s deputy in August.

The claim alleges that Deputy Daniel Acquilano — the school resource officer — body slammed and straddled Robinson after she refused to give her phone to him and walked away.

The incident was caught on video and went viral.

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The video prompted protests and compelled the Sheriff’s Department to issue a statement that said Robinson “physically resisted” the deputy. The statement said the department is conducting “an in-depth review of the policy and tactics” used and will “take appropriate action.”

According to the complaint, Acquilano detained Robinson and drove her, handcuffed, to the Lancaster sheriff’s station. It alleges Robinson was denied the opportunity to speak to her mother while at the station, and was subsequently taken to Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, nearly 50 miles away.

The claim says Robinson’s mother was finally notified to pick up her daughter around 8 p.m. that night.

'Mocking, Teasing, And Harassing'

The complaint alleges that school staff members posted “mocking, bullying, harassing, and humiliating” comments on social media in response to the viral video.

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It says when Robinson returned to school in early September, Acquilano “continued to engage in highly inappropriate conduct by mocking, teasing, and harassing” her. According to the claim, Robinson spent just one day back at school, and is now too afraid and anxious to return.

“The conduct has deprived MiKayla of her right of equal access to educational benefits and opportunities,” the claim states.

A claim is the first step before the filing of a lawsuit.

On Sept. 10, a Sheriff's Department spokesperson said Deputy Acquilano remained on duty at Lancaster High School. On Thursday, Lancaster Sheriff's Station Capt. John Lecrivain said he couldn't comment on Acquilano's status because of the pending litigation.

The complaint cites LAist and ProPublica’s investigation into sheriff’s deputies on Antelope Valley Union High School campuses, which found that in 2019 they disproportionately stopped and cited Black students.

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The Antelope Valley Union High School District and the county did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the claim for damages

What questions do you have about criminal justice in Southern California? 
Emily Elena Dugdale covers smaller police departments around Southern California, school safety officers, jails and prisons, and juvenile justice issues. She also covers the LAPD and the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.