EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (NewsNation Now) — The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that a school resource officer acted appropriately when responding to the home of a 12-year-old boy who briefly showed a toy gun during an online class.
The incident occurred on Aug. 27. Isaiah Elliott was suspended from Grand Mountain School in Widefield District No. 3 for five days.
The sheriff’s office published body camera footage of the incident on its Facebook page.
In the 30-minute clip, a school resource officer discusses the matter with staff at the school before responding to the Elliotts’ home just outside Colorado Springs.
The sheriff’s office mentions two 12-year-old boys. As no one was charged with a crime and the boys are juveniles, the other boy’s relationship to Isaiah is not specified. However, he is described as a friend in the video.
In the footage, a school staff member expressed her concerns about the situation, stating it was unclear if the gun shown during the online class was real or a toy. She described the boys involved as “goofballs,” but said such behavior was not appropriate in this situation.
When the deputy responds to the home alongside another deputy, he discusses the matter with the boys — whose faces are blurred — and Isaiah’s father, Curtis Elliott.
The deputy said he wanted to verify whether the gun was a toy or real. He also wanted to discuss the seriousness of the situation with the children.
“I’ve already talked to them about the seriousness of what they did, what’s going on,” Curtis told the deputy. “I’ve also talked to them about what’s going on in our society right now, especially with them being young African-American males. They’re 12 but they don’t look 12. And what they did, you know, you guys don’t have a way to differentiate between — at the time — whether something is fake.”
Curtis’ wife, Dani Elliott, joined the discussion via speakerphone. She said she wanted the deputy to ensure the school knows the gun is a toy, which the deputy assured her he would.
The deputy said the boys would not be charged with a crime and that the information would only be documented in an informational report. However, the deputy said that may not be the case if the same thing happens again.
“Had that been in a school setting, you would be getting criminally charged because that’s interference with an educational institution. Technically, we could probably still push that right now. I’m not going to today. I want more to educate you on the seriousness of this so you don’t get in trouble in the future,” the deputy told the boys.
The deputy said he did not want to see the boys get in trouble for “something silly.”
On its Facebook page, the sheriff’s office said, “We take these situations seriously and we have to respond to circumstances such as these as public safety is our number one priority. The School Resource Officer took the appropriate action and was kind and respectful throughout the interaction. His goal was to educate the involved parties.”
Dani told the deputy her concern was more with Grand Mountain, and she planned to address the matter with the school.
In an interview with NewsNation affiliate KDVR last week, Isaiah said he was “super scared” when the deputies came to his house to investigate.
“I didn’t mean to put it [the “Zombie Hunter” toy gun] across the camera or anything. I just wanted to move it across the couch,” said Elliott, who explained that he followed the teacher’s instructions when she asked him to put it away during class.
Last week, Isaiah’s parents said their son was traumatized by deputies saying his behavior could’ve led to criminal charges and might in the future if he were to do something similar again.
“He was in tears when the cops came. He was just in tears. He was scared. We all were scared. I literally was scared for his life,” said Curtis, fearful that deputies might overreact to having the school principal tell them a young Black boy was potentially armed with a gun.
The incident is separate from one involving a different boy in Jefferson County.