LANCASTER — MiKayla Robinson, a 16-year-old Lancaster High School student caught in a viral video being body-slammed at school by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s school resource deputy in August, filed a claim for unspecified damages against Antelope Valley Union High School District and Los Angeles County, on Wednesday.
The incident occurred at approximately 2 p.m., Aug. 30, while Robinson, an African-American girl, was waiting to speak with the school’s vice principal Tessa Grabbas.
A claim is often a precursor to a lawsuit.
According to the claim, Deputy Daniel Acquilano approached Robinson and demanded to see her phone. When Robinson denied the deputy’s request, the claim alleges that Acquilano tried to grab the phone. Robinson walked away, holding the phone against her chest. The claim then alleges the deputy followed Robinson from behind, grabbed her forcefully by the arms and torso, body-slammed her to the ground and then straddled her.
The incident was caught on video by another student. Portions of it were posted on social media.
According to the claim, school officials observed the attack and did not intervene or ask that the deputy stop.
“MiKayla is informed and believes that the alleged conduct was motivated and occurred on the basis of her race, sex and disability,” the claim said.
The claim alleges that Robinson was unlawfully detained by Acquilano, handcuffed, placed in the deputy’s vehicle and taken to the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. The claim alleges that Robinson was not provided any medical attention despite repeated complaints that her head and neck hurt. It alleges the teen was deprived of an opportunity to call her mother. Robinson was subsequently transported about 50 miles away to Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, where her mother, Teranisha Robinson, was notified to pick up her daughter at about 8 p.m. that night.
The claim alleges that school staff members posted “mocking, bullying, harassing, and humiliating comments” on social media in response to the posting of the video on social media.
The claim alleges that when Robinson returned to school for one day on or about Sept. 3, Acquilano “continued to engage in highly inappropriate conduct by mocking, teasing and harassing her.” It also alleges the District and the sheriffs department “have failed to investigate, discipline, remove, or even suspend SRO Acquilano for the wrongful and egregious conduct.”
According to the claim, Robinson struggles with the idea of returning to school due to feelings of fear, trauma, anxiety, humiliation and shame.
“The conduct has deprived MiKayla of her right of equal access to educational benefits and opportunities,” the claim states.
The Sheriff’s Department released a statement last month saying that it was aware of the video and is investigating the circumstances of the incident.
“The student physically resisted the detention and the deputy used force to take the student into custody,” the statement said.
A deputy with the Sheriff’s Information Bureau on Friday said the incident is still under investigation.
Sgt. Brendan Kinsella of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, where Acquilano is based, said Friday that he could not comment on pending litigation.
AV Union High School District officials also declined comment on Friday.
“The District is not able to comment on pending litigation,” the District said via email.