Herndon, VA – The chief of police stood up for a Herndon school resource officer after the NAACP held a press conference accusing the veteran officer of racial profiling and filing a false police report Tuesday.
The chief also released a video that proved the accusations were false (video below).
The initial incident occurred in the afternoon on Sept. 20, 2019 after a Fairfax County school bus left Herndon Middle School to take students home, WUSA reported.
Sandra Barksdale claimed her 13-year-old son, Khaleaf Ali, was jumped from behind and beaten by other students on the way home from school.
But Fairfax County Public Schools and the Herndon Police Department investigated the incident and determined that although Ali had been struck by another student, he had actually been the aggressor and the instigator of the fight, the Herndon Patch reported.
Afterwards, Barksdale demanded that the other student be charged with assault, and when that didn’t happen, she became angry and contacted the Fairfax County NAACP for help.
The mother, her eighth grade son, and a representative from the NAACP met with School Resource Officer M.F. Murn at the Herndon Police Department on Oct. 15, 2019 so that the officer could explain what the investigation had determined.
During the meeting, which was captured on recently-released bodycam video, Officer Murn explained to Barksdale, Ali, and the NAACP representatives, Dr. Sujatha Hampton that he and the school had interviewed multiple children who were on the bus and determined that the incident had been Ali’s own fault.
Officer Murn said the other children told very similar stories and all of them said that Ali had been terrorizing the other boy, and had jiggled his chest and called him fat.
Then the officer explained that surveillance video from inside the bus showed Ali sat down in a seat on the bus that was forward of the other student and put his legs across the aisle, effectively blocking in the student he was bullying.
He said the investigation had determined that the other boy hit Ali in self-defense after he was tormented and assaulted by Barksdale’s son.
The meeting was initially friendly and Barksdale appeared to be most hung up on the fact that her child had been called into the police department while the other children had been interviewed at Herndon Middle School.
Officer Murn explained that he wanted to meet with her at the police station because he needed to tell them what the other children had said had happened on the school bus.
“They described very disturbing behavior about her son, and I said as a parent, I would want to know if it were my child,” he explained in the bodycam video.
Hampton told the officer she was there with Barksdale because they hadn’t been given any information about what was happening with the assault they said had been committed on Ali.
“Khaleaf was not assaulted. The other child was defending himself. He is the offender,” Officer Murn said and pointed to Ali.
“He committed an assault causing that child to respond in such a way,” Officer Murn continued to clarify. “There was an assault and battery. He was committing an assault without the battery prior to that other child reacting the way that child reacted… because of what he was saying, how he said it, and how he positioned himself in front of that child.”
“And at one point he was touching that child, poking that child, moving his breasts up and down, calling him fat, calling him the n-word, challenging him to get up and fight. Telling that child ‘get up and fight, I will mess you up,’ calling him the n-word, using the f-word several times, telling him what’ll happen… when he got on the bus, the children said his behavior towards that child started almost right away,” the officer said.
Officer Murn explained that the children told police that Ali picked a different child to bully on the bus each day.
Throughout the conversation with Barksdale, Ali, and Hampton, Officer Murn remained calm, polite and accommodating, despite NAACP accusations that he had been curt and dismissive.
Hampton brought up an incident that occurred with another child who she said administrators told she could not retaliate, and the officer said it was a different situation when a student is in a position to walk away, but that when a student is trapped in the back of the bus they could defend themselves, the video showed.
When the NAACP representative continued to grill him, the officer said it was Barksdale who should be doing the talking.
But Hampton kept talking and accused the officer of having handled the investigation in a racist manner.
“We can extrapolate out based on just everything we know about the way things tend to happen if it had been reversed… I’m saying if it had been reversed and this child or any other black child had been pounding on another white child in the same manner that was happening, it’s hard to imagine that justice would be meted out in the same way,” Hampton told the officer in the video. “It’s hard to imagine which is sorta what I’m hearing and feeling. My instincts are telling me this.”
“Well, I’m not going to discuss that anymore with you,” Officer Murn replied calmly in the video. “You’re totally out of line with that regard. Now, this is not anything that I observed, this is what these other children said. All independent witnesses on their own. Some of them quite frankly said they’re afraid of your child.”
Barksdale asked for a copy of the police report and the officer showed them where to get it and provided the report number for them to file a Freedom of Information Act request.
At the press conference the NAACP held on Tuesday, Barksdale claimed her son had sustained a concussion and not been offered medical attention, WUSA reported.
“Both the school administration and the school resource officer involved have blamed my son for this incident,” the outraged mother told reporters.
“Officer Murn has an issue with my son and the police report does not match the video of the incident,” Barksdale said.
But Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard strongly defended Officer Murn at her own press conference, the Herndon Patch reported.
“There’s nothing in the video that does not support what is in this police report,” Chief DeBoard said.
“My officer conducted a thorough investigation and reviewed both video footage from the bus and that footage from the bus does not contain audio, as well as interviewed numerous other students who were on the bus and in a position to witness the incident,” the chief explained.
“The school bus video is only one piece of this investigation and it does not give the complete picture of what occurred. In fact, it only shows a visual picture of the events leading up to and the incident itself,” the chief said.
“The facts indicate that Ms. Barksdale’s son was actually determined to be the initial aggressor in this incident and initiated physical contact with the other students after inciting him to fight, calling him several derogatory names, including racial slurs,” she continued. “All the witnesses interviewed who were on the bus described the events of the incident in a similar fashion. All witnesses interviewed indicated that Ms. Barksdale’s son was bullying the other student, which is what led to the physical altercation between the two kids.”
Additionally, the chief said the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office had determined that the incident did not rise to a criminal level and said it wouldn’t prosecute either child, the Herndon Patch reported.
Chief DeBoard called out the false narrative being pitched by NAACP and the boy’s mother and pointed out that Ali was never arrested or charged in the incident.
“The allegations presented by Ms. Barksdale do not align with the facts of this investigation,” she said. “Nor was there any intention by the officer to arrest him.”
“Nor did the officer point his finger in her face in a controlled rage,” Chief DeBoard said, referencing the way the NAACP had characterized Officer Murn’s meeting with Barksdale and Hampton.
Watch video of the meeting here below: