LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Louisville Metro Police officer — who also serves as a JCPS school resource officer — has been arrested on charges he assaulted two 13-year-olds in separate incidents last month, accused of using an “unauthorized choke hold” that left one of the teens unconscious.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad has suspended Officer John Hardin without pay, calling the allegations “egregious.”
Hardin, 31, was a school resource officer at Olmsted Academy North Middle School but has since been removed. He was arrested Tuesday on warrants stemming from two separate incidents involving 13-year-old students, according to arrest reports.
On Jan. 22, Hardin is accused of pushing a 13-year-old “without justification” and then punching him on belief the teen had cut lunch line, according to one arrest citation. Hardin then filed charges against the teen for menacing and resisting arrest, “based on facts he knew to be false,” according to the criminal complaint.
The teen was treated at Kosair Children’s Hospital for his injuries. The incident was captured on school surveillance video.
The other warrant — from an incident on Jan. 27 — says Hardin is accused of using an unauthorized “choke hold” on a 13-year-old, causing the teen to go unconscious within six seconds. After the teen regained consciousness, Hardin handcuffed the juvenile, according to the complaint.
Instead of calling for emergency assistance, Hardin is accused of keeping the teen out of class for the rest of the day and then driving him home. Hardin “failed to accurately report to the victim’s parents” what happened, according to the complaint.
Dr. William Smock, a forensic examiner, examined the teen on Monday and concluded Hardin’s conduct created “grave risk”, according to the citation. Smock also concluded the “unauthorized choke hold” caused the 13-year-old to lose blood flow to the brain, resulting in “anoxic injury.”
Hardin’s conduct, according to Smock, “manifested an extreme indifference to the value of human life,” causing serious physical injury. The teen’s condition is unknown.
That incident was also caught on the school’s surveillance video.
Hardin is charged with official misconduct, felony and misdemeanor assault, wanton endangerment and false swearing. The police reports claim Hardin violated LMPD use of force procedures.
Hardin is being held on $25,000 bond at Metro Corrections.
Officer Hardin has previously been named in a lawsuit filed against three LMPD officers that claimed the officers physically and verbally abused youth taking part in the Gentleman’s Academy.
The Gentleman’s Academy is a program with the goal of helping troubled youth avoid negative paths in life.
“He’s been removed from the school. A new school resource officer will be there [Wednesday]. We have notified parents that he has been removed,” JCPS spokesperson Ben Jackey said in a statement Tuesday.
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
“A Public Integrity Investigation was immediately initiated as soon as the allegations of criminal wrongdoing by Officer Jonathan Hardin were brought to our attention by JCPS. Further investigation determined the allegations to be egregious and necessary to present to the Jefferson County Attorney’s office for review. The County Attorney’s Office presented the case before a judge who issued an arrest warrant for Officer Hardin charging him with Assault 1st, Wanton Endangerment 1st, Official Misconduct 1st & 2nd, Assault 4th, and False Swearing.
Based upon the nature of the conduct which is clearly documented in the on-going criminal investigation, I have determined to exercise my authority under KRS 15.520 and suspend Officer Hardin without pay. Officer Hardin is afforded due process and we will await the results of this case in court. In the meantime, I have also initiated a Professional Standards investigation into this matter and, therefore, in accordance with KRS 15.520 we are prohibited from speaking further on this particular case.
Allegations of our officers involved in criminal wrongdoing are very concerning and something we take quite serious.”
Hardin is scheduled to appear in court on Friday.
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