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Clayton Police: Lovejoy student gave false statement

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County police arrested a female Lovejoy High School student, and charged her with giving a false statement, on Wednesday, after she allegedly admitted to lying to police, and in court, about what she saw during a recent food fight at the school, according to the police department.

In a written statement, police spokesperson, Lt. Tina Daniel, said a female student, a minor who allegedly witnessed the food fight, told a television reporter that officers sprayed students participating in the incident with pepper spray after they were handcuffed.

Officer John Schneller, another Clayton police spokesman, said in a telephone interview that the female also said the same thing in a sworn, written witness statement for the police, and during testimony in Clayton County Magistrate Court last week.

He said police realized what the youth was saying, however, when they saw the television report.

"We knew it was not factual," Schneller said. "We brought her in, and questioned her about it, and, eventually, she admitted that she had lied [in the witness statement, in court, and during the television report] about what happened."

Daniel said the female student was arrested on a juvenile petition, and then turned over to her guardian. Daniel added that the student will have to face a court hearing in Clayton County Juvenile Court.

Daniel and Schneller said the student's guardian was present when the youth admitted to the lie.

During the food fight in question, Clayton police arrested nine students at Lovejoy, including one who allegedly jumped on the back of an officer who was trying to arrest another student.

At the time of the incident, police said a foam pepper spray was used only on the pupil that the officer was trying to arrest, as well the student who jumped on the officer's back.

The two students, who were pepper sprayed, Jefferson Rivera, 18, and Erik Fuentes, 17, were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, obstruction, simple battery on a police officer, and disrupting a public school. Seven other students were arrested on disorderly conduct and obstruction charges, stemming from the food fight.

A 10th student, a minor, was arrested at the school that day, in an unrelated incident, for allegedly gambling and possessing a knife at the school, which is why the police were at the school in the first place.

Daniel said that when the female student admitted to lying about what she saw, the youth explained her actions by saying "she got caught up in the middle of the incident, and that she did not know what to say when the reporter asked her if the officers used excessive force on the offenders."