A Lancaster teenager has filed legal claims against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and her school district alleging she was slammed to the ground by a deputy at school after refusing to give him her phone.
MiKayla Robinson, a 16-year-old Black student at Lancaster High School, was waiting to speak to the vice principal on Aug. 30, when a deputy assigned to patrol the school approached and demanded to see her phone, according to the legal claims, which are a precursor to a lawsuit.
When Robinson refused, the deputy tried to grab the phone and she started to walk away, the documents said. The deputy then followed her, grabbed her arms and forcibly took her to the ground, according to the documents.
A bystander recorded the incident in a 43-second video that shows the deputy knocking Robinson to the ground and pinning her face down. The deputy is seen straddling her for more than 30 seconds while she yelled for him to get off and not to touch her phone.
The video clip ends as a school staffer ushers the bystander away, with Robinson still pinned to the ground.
“He should never have laid a hand on her,” Lisa Bloom, an attorney representing Robinson, said in a statement. “Every child has the right to feel safe at her own school. Every child has the right to be treated with equal dignity by authority figures at her school, regardless of race.”
It is unknown why the deputy confronted Robinson.
The Antelope Valley Union High School District declined to comment on the incident, citing pending litigation. Records show the district’s board of trustees in July voted to continue with its practice of assigning deputies to its campuses.
When asked about the incident, the Sheriff’s Department directed The Times to a statement it published last month saying the student “physically resisted the detention” and the deputy used force to take her into custody.
The statement said officials were conducting “an in-depth review of the policy and tactics” used during the incident.
“We will thoroughly review our actions related to this incident and take appropriate action,” the statement said. A spokesman said Friday that the incident remains under investigation.
In the legal claims, Bloom alleged Robinson was unlawfully detained, handcuffed and taken to a sheriff’s station. She was denied medical treatment despite complaining that her neck and head hurt, and she was not allowed to call her mother, according to the documents.
She was then taken to Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, nearly 50 miles away, where her mother picked her up later that night. It is unknown whether Robinson faces any charges in juvenile court related to the incident.
The claims allege that when Robinson returned to school for one day last month, the deputy mocked and harassed her.
The Sheriff’s Department has long had a troubled relationship with Black and Latino residents in the Antelope Valley.
A federal investigation in 2013 found a pattern of unreasonable force, intimidation, and unlawful stops and searches of Black and Latino residents in Lancaster. The Sheriff’s Department agreed in 2015 to implement sweeping measures to improve policing there, but monitors overseeing the settlement agreement have said progress has been slow.
Robinson’s claim alleges that the Sheriff’s Department failed to comply with several provisions of the agreement.