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CCSD police officer involved in Durango High School incident not fired

Updated June 22, 2023 - 6:34 pm

The school police officer involved in an incident at Durango High School who was accused of throwing a student on the ground was not fired and the district will not change its use-of-force policy, Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara said Thursday.

In February, a video of an altercation near Durango High School was posted to social media that appeared to show district police officer Lt. Jason Elfberg pulling a Black student onto the ground and putting a knee onto the student’s back. The student appeared to be recording the arrest of other juveniles.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada announced in February that it was representing the students involved.

Jara said Thursday in a meeting with the Review-Journal’s editorial board that the investigation into the Durango incident was closed, Elfberg was still employed with CCSD Police and that the district would not change its use-of-force policy.

“Hearing that CCSD has closed its investigation into its officer’s misconduct without requesting an interview with our clients raises serious questions about the district’s actual willingness to hold its officers accountable,” ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Christopher Peterson said in a statement Thursday.

Peterson said keeping the officer involved in the altercation on staff potentially endangers other students.

A district police spokesman did not return a request for comment Thursday.

‘Insult to injury’

Quentin Savwoir, president of the NAACP Las Vegas chapter, said the move showed that the school district had no intention to make significant changes to its use-of-force policy.

In response to the Durango incident, Jara and CCSD Police Chief Mike Blackeye appeared before state lawmakers in March to explain the school district’s use-of-force policies. In that legislative hearing, Blackeye said five officers had been investigated for use-of-force in the last three years, but refused to say the outcome of those investigations.

The Review-Journal has requested the report and body-camera footage from the Durango High School incident and any prior complaints against Elfberg, but the district refused to release the records, citing its ongoing investigation.

The ACLU sued the school district in April over the release of the records.

The school district responded to the ACLU’s lawsuit on June 13, calling it “overly burdensome” and claiming the ACLU did not explain “how internal records can benefit the public.” The district and ACLU’s next court date is set for July 11.

District spokesman Tod Story said Thursday that body-camera footage related to the incident was sent to Juvenile Court and that the district no longer had it.

Both the ACLU and the NAACP accused the school district of lacking transparency following the announcement.

“That CCSD Police Chief Blackeye and Superintendent Jara continue to talk publicly about the incident while continuing to stonewall requests for transparency adds insult to injury,” Peterson said.

Savwoir said the announcement from Jara showed his and the school district’s tendency for “anti-democracy behaviors.” He said the school district met demands for answers from the community with “silence and stall tactics.”

“This is a gross breach of trust that will not be tolerated. Our scholars, our families and our community will have better,” Savwoir said in a statement.

Contact Mark Credico at mcredico@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Instagram @writermark2.

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