No charges for Boynton Beach police officer who kicked teen's legs

By Peter Burke, Managing Editor, pburke@local10.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:21:52 AM EDT
Updated On: Jun 27 2014 11:30:00 AM EDT
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -

A Boynton Beach police officer who kicked the legs of a 13-year-old boy, causing him to fall to the ground, in an incident that was caught on cellphone video won't be criminally charged.

Palm Beach County assistant state attorney Daniel Funk said "justice would not be served by criminally prosecuting" Officer Jermaine Jones, according to a report obtained by Local 10 News on Friday.

Kevens Jean-Baptiste claimed he was handcuffed and taken off a school bus in May after he and another boy opened windows against the driver's orders.

However, Funk's report said officers were called as a result of eggs being thrown at a bus driver and two buses full of students were being delayed getting to school.

Jean-Baptiste admitted students had thrown eggs from the bus a day earlier, but the teen said he wasn't being unruly. He said he rolled down his window because a girl sprayed perfume and he has asthma.

"While the video of the incident looks dramatic, the force used against the juvenile resulted in no significant bodily injury," Funk wrote.

Funk wrote in the report that Jones and the other officers had the responsibility to maintain control of the scene. Funk said Jones' action "was not done merely with malicious intent."

According to the report, the teen was "being disruptive and profane" to the officer and "chest bumped" Jones and another officer, even after the teen was placed in handcuffs.

That's when cellphone video captured by another student on the bus showed Jones putting Jean-Baptiste in a choke hold and kicking the boy's legs, causing him to fall on his back to the ground.

Still, Funk noted that Jones "certainly did nothing to prevent the handcuffed juvenile from falling" and wrote that the officer's failure to hold onto the boy as he fell to the ground "is a fair criticism."

But because the teen wasn't arrested, went to school and ultimately apologized, the state won't file criminal charges.

"While the appearance of the leg sweep on the video is disturbing, that cannot be viewed in isolation as the sole fact in deciding whether or not to file criminal charges," Funk said, adding that "criminal prosecution would be disproportionate" to the nature of the officer's actions.

Boynton Beach police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said Jones, who had been placed on administrative leave, is back on active duty. She said an internal investigation is still active.

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