Photo: Getty Images
  /  09.28.2022

An incident captured on both cell phone and bodycam footage at a Tennessee high school is gaining traction online. In the video, a Black student is being reprimanded by a white school coach for wanting to play basketball instead of kickball during gym class.

When the coach cannot get the student to comply, he calls for backup from a school security guard. The student, 18-year-old Tauris Sledge, is eventually dragged down a set of bleachers by Deputy Tyler McRae. According to Tennessee news station Local News 3, the incident happened on Sept. 20 at East Ridge High School. The shocking situation reportedly went on for over an hour.

The video shows a verbal dispute between Sledge and McRae, with the teen telling the deputy he has “five seconds” to get his hands off of him. During this portion of the confrontation, they are standing on the gym’s court. The lengthy video was edited online, but it appears at one point, the Tennessee teen removed himself from the situation by taking a seat at the top of the bleachers.

Next, Sledge, McRae and a male school official are seen at the top of the bleachers. “I’m giving you a lawful order to get up and come on. Take the backpack off. We are fixing to go to jail,” the deputy tells the teen. When Sledge refuses to get up, he is pepper-sprayed and dragged by his hair down the bleachers.

Sledge was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault. An internal investigation has been started according to Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garret. On Sept. 23, there was a student walkout protesting the deputy’s actions.

Famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump condemned the deputy’s actions in a tweet on Monday (Sept. 26). “A Tennessee School Resource Officer grabbed HS student Tauris Sledge by the neck and DRAGGED him down the bleachers after an argument over his choice not to play kickball. Even worse, Tauris is facing charges despite being brutalized by an SRO who was supposed to protect him!” he wrote.

An article published Monday by local Tennessee newspaper The Chattanooga Times Free Press claims McRae has had similar incidents in the past. The deputy was reportedly named in two previous Hamilton County lawsuits.

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