Suit alleging school guards violated Oakland student's civil rights filed

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OAKLAND (BCN) A high school student filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Oakland Unified School District Friday alleging that he suffered emotional distress and other injuries when two school security guards assaulted him and put him in a chokehold in an incident two years ago.

The suit by Jonathan Rodriguez alleges that the school district, security guards Noil Angelo and Carlton Johnson and school administrators used excessive force and violated Rodriguez's rights in the incident at
Fremont High School in East Oakland on Jan. 22, 2014.

The suit, which was filed on Rodriguez's behalf in federal court in Oakland by attorney Ronald Cruz of the activist group By Any Means Necessary, says Rodriguez was a 14-year-old, 110-pound freshman at the time
and suffered from disabilities including emotional disturbance. It says Fremont vice principal Eric DuBois, who is named as a defendant, asked Rodriguez to go into the principal's office and became upset when Rodriguez asked why he was in trouble and asked Angelo and Johnson to "confront" Rodriguez. 

The suit alleges that Angelo "forcefully shoved" Rodriguez from behind and Johnson "forcibly gripped" Rodriguez's head under his arm in a

The suit says the two security guards then put Rodriguez in "a choking headlock" and dragged him across the lengthy of the principal's office.

It says Rodriguez couldn't breathe, began crying, was in "searing pain, came close to blacking out and "thought they were going to choke him to death."

Rodriguez suffered a laceration above his eye, bruises, sore muscles and back and head pain but school officials didn't provide him medical attention and instead suspended him from school for five days, according to the suit. 

Rodriguez has suffered a loss of appetite, sleeplessness, weight loss and increased emotional distress because of the attack, the suit alleges.

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as an order requiring the school district to better train security guards.

Speaking at a news conference in front of the federal courthouse in Oakland, Cruz alleged that the school district hid video of the incident from Rodriguez's family for more than a year and said the incident is one of
many in recent years in which security guards have used excessive force against Latino and black students.

By Any Means Necessary organizer Yvetta Felarca said attacks against black and Latino students "have only gotten worse" since Antwan Wilson, who is black, became superintendent on July 1, 2014, five months
after the incident involving Rodriguez.

Felarca said there was another incident at Fremont High School on Jan. 8 in which a security guard allegedly pushed and shoved a student.

Referring to school district administrators, Felarca said, "We want them all out, including Wilson."

Rodriguez attended the news conference but didn't speak.

Felarca said he will re-enroll in school next week.

Rodriguez's mother, Elvia Arroyo, who spoke in Spanish, said, "It was very wrong what happened to Jonathan and other students."

Oakland schools spokesman Joel Danoy said he can't comment on the lawsuit because school district officials haven't seen it yet but he said the security guards who were involved in the incident, Angelo and Johnson,
recently resigned from their positions.

Danoy said, "School safety is foremost for all students, whether they are special education students or not" and said the district is making "an ongoing effort" to improve training for security guards.

Danoy said the district might comment on the suit next week after it's had a chance to review it.