Lawsuit claims Lansing police officer shoved student at Thornton Fractional South

Video showing a Lansing police officer pushing a 17-year-old student at Thornton Fractional South High School is at the center of a federal lawsuit against the school district, the village of Lansing and the officer.

The lawsuit, filed April 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, describes the push and a discussion between the officer and student that continued afterward.

Detective Kiara Bogan, employed by the Lansing Police Department, was working as a student resource officer for the school March 7, according to the department and the lawsuit.

A security video provided by the family’s attorney, viewed by the Daily Southtown, shows Bogan walking into the left side of the frame and, when approached by a student entering from the opposite direction, stopping and raising her right hand.

The student is seen in the video shifting his body to scoot between the officer and a student sitting at a table. As the student is passing, Bogan is seen putting her hands on the student’s chest and left arm and pushing him, the video shows.

“Bogan shoved him, then told him to watch out,” the lawsuit states.

The student, who is an unnamed co-plaintiff with his mother, “responded by issuing an epithet to Bogan,” the lawsuit states. The mother said Wednesday she does not know of any prior incidents between her son and Bogan or any other officers.

Bogan and an attorney for the village did not respond to requests for comment. The district declined to comment on an ongoing investigation. None of the defendants has responded in court, said Jordan Marsh, the family’s lawyer.

Lansing police Detective Sgt. Joe Pomilia told the mother in a meeting after the confrontation with her son that Bogan “lost her cool” because she “had just broken up a disturbance” between different students that morning, according to the lawsuit.

Video from the morning appears to corroborate that something had just occurred. About 20 seconds before the student is in front of Bogan, another student can be seen being forcibly guided out of frame by an adult.

“Pomilia told (the mother) he had seen the video, and that Bogan was in the wrong,” the lawsuit claims about the meeting.

But Lansing police Chief Alfred Phillips defended Bogan’s actions, saying Bogan responded in accordance with how police are trained.

“She does not know what the intentions were of that juvenile,” said Phillips. “So when somebody comes up on her and makes contact with her, she has to create distance and that’s what she did. There was nothing egregious about it.”

When asked why the push came after the student was passing Bogan, rather than as a preventive measure when they first came close to one another, Phillips said the officer “was creating space off of her.”

The student and officer are seen speaking to each other for 15 seconds after the encounter.

“Bogan repeatedly told (the student) to ‘Say ‘excuse me’ next time,’” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states “a school official arrived and scolded (the student), telling him something to the effect that ‘That’s a cop, you don’t get to say that.’”

Bogan threatened to tase the student, the lawsuit claims.

The school officer is seen standing between the two and guiding the student away from Bogan. As the student turned his back and started to walk away, Bogan followed and yelled “Don’t make me put you down,” according to the lawsuit.

A second camera angle shows Bogan and the student, both of whom are Black, continuing to talk to each other for another 30 seconds before someone guides the officer away from the student.

Thornton Fractional High School District 215 and the village of Lansing are also defendants as Bogan’s employers in her role as a police and school resource officer, Marsh said

The lawsuit accuses Bogan of excessive force, battery and assault, stating her actions will continue to cause the student “emotional trauma, physical and mental pain and suffering, anxiety, and humiliation.”

The lawsuit asks a jury to award compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs to the mother and her son.

Bogan continued to work as a student resource officer for a few days after the incident, but Marsh said she has not worked at the school in recent weeks after he asked the school to move her from the role while the lawsuit is pending.

The mother says this interaction has affected the way her son thinks about law enforcement.

“I think up until then he kind of felt safe at the school,” she said. “He just has a different outlook now.”