A school resource officer trying to break up a fight between two female high school students accidentally fired a Taser at a third student who was trying to help, an East Ridge public safety official said Friday.
East Ridge officers responded to East Ridge High School after the resource officer requested help, police spokesman Erik Hopkins said.
"An officer went down to a reported fight in the gymnasium ... and he found a teacher who was attempting to break up an already ongoing fight," Mr. Hopkins said. "And, in turn, she was being assaulted by one of the females that was involved in the fight."
In an attempt to protect the teacher, the officer deployed a Taser stun gun, Mr. Hopkins said. A third female student, who was not involved in the fight and was trying to help the teacher, stepped between the teacher and the officer and inadvertently was hit with the Taser, Mr. Hopkins said.
The two fighting students were taken into custody and each charged with assault and disorderly conduct.
A 17-year-old student was taken to the Juvenile Detention Center, and an 18-year-old student identified as Dearia M. Higgins was taken to the Hamilton County Jail, according to Mr. Hopkins.
Ms. Higgins will appear in East Ridge Municipal Court on March 30, Mr. Hopkins said.
This was the second time in two days a Taser was used to break up a fight between two female high school students. A Taser was used on a juvenile student Thursday at Brainerd High School after the school resource officer could not get her to stop fighting with another student.
School board Chairman Kenny Smith said any time a student is Tasered, there are concerns raised, but he is confident in the police force and its ability to determine the best course of action in these situations. He said he anticipates that school board members will discuss the incidents.
"If (the Taser policy) needs to be revisited, we will do it as a board," Mr. Smith said. "Some of these things are really tough decisions to make. A lot of times we need to leave it in the hands of the trained police force to make sure the right policy is in place."
The 17-year-old student who was shocked with a Taser on Friday was treated at the school by fire and rescue first-responders and taken to Parkridge Hospital for evaluation. The resource officer and school officials said she is a good student who was not part of the fight but only was trying to assist, Mr. Hopkins said.
No other injuries were reported, he said.
Mr. Hopkins said East Ridge police are reviewing the incident, but at this point they believe the Tasing was accidental. He said police believe the officer acted within policy, which consists of a "use of force continuum" that covers all levels of force an officer can use, from officer presence to use of deadly force.
"Basically, if I am going to put my hands on you, if we're about to get into a physical altercation, we're allowed to Tase," he said.