Fight video troubling Clovis police, schools

By Sharna Johnson, Freedom Newspapers

A fight between two Clovis teens in May that was filmed and posted online to MySpace has law enforcement and school officials concerned.

However, posting such a video is not against the law or school rules.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of it (in Clovis), but I’ve seen it nationally,” Clovis police Lt. Jim Schoeffel said. He said officers were planning to review the video.

Schoeffel said he was not aware of any statute prohibiting posting the video.

“We’re dealing with this stuff as it comes up,” he said.

As more photos and videos of incidents appear online, he said police will need to examine the phenomenon for legalities and may even look for such items as evidence in crimes.

Fighting is a crime, Schoeffel said, falling into either the classification of public affray, assault or battery.

The fight occurred after the youths left school grounds the morning of May 25 and crossed paths at a nearby skate park, according to a police report.

“It’s a new phenomenon for us and fortunately we haven’t had to deal with much,” Clovis Municipal Schools spokesman David Briseno said.

At school, administrators have legal right to act in place of parents. When students are out of school, it’s different, he said.

It gets dicey when students leave campus but should be in class or when a situation off campus affects things on campus, such as disputes on the Internet spilling into the classroom.

Schools need to address how they will handle these issues, he said.

One of the boys, 14, told police a group of six teens followed him and his friends and threw rocks at him to get him to fight. When he refused, he said a boy, also 14, threw him down and began hitting him, the report said.

The boy who allegedly started the fight was referred to juvenile probation officers, the report said. There were no serious injuries from the altercation, the report said.

A third youth loaded a video of the fight to his MySpace page that afternoon, MySpace documentation showed.

The video has been viewed 400 times.

As of Friday there were more than 20 comments on his MySpace page about the fight. The postings are a mix of support for the fighters and an exchange of threats for future fights.

The mother of one of the boys said Friday she was aware of the incident and the video being posted online but did not want to comment.

Other youths in the video were unidentifiable.

Police declined to release the names of any of the boys because of their ages.

Parents need to watch what their children are doing online, Schoeffel said.

“(Technology) is a double-edged sword. As a parent, I appreciate the opportunity for my child to gain knowledge and keep in contact with their friends,” he said.

“On the other side, as with any new product or technology, there’s a responsibility for parents. Parents should be involved with their child and know what they’re doing.”