Activists call for probe into excessive force accusations in Gulfport

Joneé Lewis reports

The family of a 15-year-old girl is demanding answers after she said a Gulfport police officer was rough with her during an encounter at school last week.

The National Action Network’s Central Florida Chapter held a press conference with Maniya Sherriffe calling for accountability and an independent investigation of the officer’s actions.

“So, because her safety was violated, we’ve come to say that we won’t tolerate it. And we want accountability,” Bryce Graham, the second vice president of the National Action Network’s Central Florida Chapter, said.

The teen’s family said she was being bullied during the school day and after by several girls.

“It was a verbal altercation. The girls were separated and everything kind of went away,” a family member said.

Sherriffe said a Gulfport police officer who was already there addressing another incident got involved after that.

READ: Bradenton police chief exonerated of allegations of wrongdoing, city mayor says

“He slung me against the wall and put me in handcuffs,” Sherriffe said. “When he slung me, I had hit my forehead right here against the divider of the door. And then he slung me onto the ground, and then he scraped my face.”

The family said they don’t know why Sherriffe was placed in handcuffs or taken to another part of the school. 

“The only thing I have to say is my daughter’s face should not be looking like this no matter what had happened. My daughter’s face should not be looking like this,” Destini Lewis, Sherriffe’s mother said.

The family said she did not resist and so far, they haven’t received an explanation from the school district or police department.

“We as grandparents and parents should not have to go to a school and walk into a media center and walk up to their grandchild with their child with blood running down her face,” Marvin Pickney, Sherriffe’s grandfather said.

FOX13 reached out to the Gulfport Police Department who said there is an internal affairs investigation related to the complaint but that the department couldn’t comment further. The department said it believes there is surveillance video from the school related to the incident.

The school district said it cannot comment due to the police investigation.

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