Parents Claim Cheyenne Resource Officer Tackled, Bloodied Second Grader

Parents of a former Cheyenne second grader have filed a lawsuit claiming their son was unnecessarily roughed up, tackled and bloodied by a Laramie County Sheriff’s Office deputy at school last year.

CM
Clair McFarland

November 29, 20235 min read

An image from the body cam of a Laramie County Sheriff's Office deputy's altercation with a Cheyenne second grader was filed with a lawsuit by the child's parents against the department and the deputy.
An image from the body cam of a Laramie County Sheriff's Office deputy's altercation with a Cheyenne second grader was filed with a lawsuit by the child's parents against the department and the deputy. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Claiming a sheriff’s deputy tackled their disabled second-grade son last year, a former Cheyenne couple is suing the deputy and the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department.

Emily and Ishmael DeJesus filed their lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District court for Wyoming, alleging violations of the child’s Fourth and 14th Amendment rights and violations of federal disability protection laws.

The lawsuit complaint alleges that on Feb. 15, 2022, Laramie County Sheriff Deputy Benjamin Jacquot, a school resource officer for Freedom Elementary School in Cheyenne, unnecessarily tackled and pinned an 8-year-old boy on the ground.

Jacquot, whom the parents are suing in his individual capacity, did not respond by publication time Wednesday to a voicemail requesting comment.

Laramie County Sheriff Brian Kozak, who runs the department now but was not sheriff at the time the alleged assault happened, declined to comment on the allegations, but noted that Jacquot was cleared following an investigation last year and remains employed with the department.

Go Apologize

The complaint says the boy’s father, Ishmael DeJesus, is a U.S. Air Force master sergeant and 18-year veteran who was on active duty at the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne in 2022. The boy’s mother is a nurse who works in a neonatal intensive care unit at a pediatric hospital, the complaint says, adding that the family no longer lives in Cheyenne.

The lawsuit complaint says the incident prompted the family to move.

By Feb. 15, 2022, the boy reportedly had an individualized education plan (IEP) at school due to a neurodivergent disability. He also had ADHD. The boy’s IEP said that when he experiences emotional issues, school staffers should give him breaks in a quiet area and space to calm down, says the complaint.

That day, the boy went to the principal’s office during lunch recess, which he’d been doing since Feb. 11, 2022, as part of his behavior plan.

The boy had made unpleasant comments to an adult lunch cashier in the lunchroom moments earlier, the complaint says.

The school principal and the boy’s teacher talked to him about his behavior and whether he should apologize to the cashier.

Jacquot was standing near the principal’s office at the time, the complaint says, referring to Jacquot’s body cam that allegedly recorded the scene.

The boy was responding well to the intervention, the complaint says, adding that Jacquot “knew (the boy) had a disability,” and the principal and teacher didn’t ask for the deputy’s help.

Injuries to the face of a former Cheyenne second grader allegedly caused by a Laramie County Sheriff's Office deputy, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The child's identifying features have been blurred by Cowboy State Daily.
Injuries to the face of a former Cheyenne second grader allegedly caused by a Laramie County Sheriff's Office deputy, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The child's identifying features have been blurred by Cowboy State Daily. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

An Alleged Attack

The DeJesus parents are alleging that Jacquot deleted part of his body cam video of the incident.

“According to Principal (Chad) Delbridge’s written report, Deputy Jacquot grabbed (the boy) by the arm when (he) stood up and began walking away from Principal Delbridge to return to class,” the complaint says.

The document says the boy was not a threat to himself or anyone else; was not committing and had not committed a crime; had no weapons; and wasn’t under arrest.

“Deputy Jacquot, nevertheless, forcibly wrestled (him) into a nearby conference room using an armlock where the assault grew violent,” says the complaint.

It alleges that “during the deleted portion of the body cam video, Deputy Jacquot repeatedly slammed (the boy) face down onto the floor of the conference room causing multiple bleeding facial injuries.”

The complaint says Jacquot weighed more than 280 pounds while the boy weighed 68 pounds. It also says Jacquot climbed on top of the boy, pinned him facedown on the floor and impeded his breathing, while screaming threats at him.

“The undeleted body cam video returns at (timestamp) 5:16, at which point (the boy) is pinned underneath Deputy Jacquot while (the boy) screams and cries in pain and fear,” says the complaint.

Bleeding wounds are visible in the video, the document says. The boy reportedly fought for breath and coughed, repeatedly saying, “I give up.”

“I should be taking you to jail!” Jacquot shouted back, the complaint claims.

‘Permanent’

The principal called the boy’s father, Ishmael DeJesus, and asked him to come get his son.

DeJesus arrived and spoke with Jacquot, and the pair reportedly had a back-and-forth about why Jacquot got physical with the boy.

The father then took his son to a doctor for treatment, says the complaint.

The boy still is in therapy, goes to an elementary school for children with emotional disturbances and is afraid of law enforcement because of the attack, the complaint claims.

“(His) psychological injuries from the assault, at this time, appear to be permanent,” says the document.

“Notably absent from the 43-minute and 37-second total video footage captured by Defendant Jacquot’s body camera is any behavior whatsoever on (the boy’s) part that would require law enforcement intervention at the level of force used by Deputy Jacquot,” the complaint adds.

The Claims

The parents allege that the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department didn’t re-train Jacquot in light of the incident.

They have applied four civil claims in their lawsuit:

Excessive force and unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Disability-based discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Failure to accommodate someone with a disability, in violation of the ADA.

Violating the federal Rehabilitation Act.

The complaint asks for a jury trial, for a declaration that the department and the deputy acted outside the law and an order enjoining the department and deputy from deploying “the unlawful conduct” the complaint alleges.

The parents also are asking for compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter