JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — Pictures of a L.W. Higgins High School senior’s face covered in blood is causing outrage Friday after his family members said he was beaten by a Jefferson Parish deputy.
On Thursday around 10 a.m., 18-year-old Jami Coston’s mother, Dasuqua Coston, received a FaceTime call from her son. When she answered, she saw Jami’s face covered in blood and swollen.
“I’ve never seen a face dripping like that. It looked like it was coming mostly from his eye. His lip look busted,” Dasuqua said.
Coston’s family members said the incident started when a teacher asked why Jami smelled like cigarettes, then asked for him to be searched. That’s when a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy stepped in, they said.
“As the deputy was getting close, Jamiah said he took off his jacket and said oh b*****, you wanna fight?” Dasuqua said. “Once he got to Jamiah, that’s when the slamming the putting the arms behind the back and he said he was screaming,” she said.
A student caught part of the incident in a video that circulated widely on social media. In it, a man is seen falling on top of Jami, then the two hitting the ground.
Shortly after is when Jami’s mother claims the deputy took her son to his office and physically attacked him. That’s when she said her son called her.
“Eye is bust, blood is leaked all over, school shirt is leaking everywhere,” Dasuqua said.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office gave a different account of the incident, however.
According to the JPSO in a statement to Eyewitness News, the situation started when Jami caused a disturbance in his class and then began taking off his jacket to prepare to fight a deputy.
The deputy then told him to submit to being handcuffed, but Jami resisted. That’s when the JPSO said the deputy “…escort[ed] him to the ground.”
JPSO officials said Jami had a minor cut near his left eye and the deputy suffered scrapes his knee and hand. Jami was taken to the deputy’s office for paperwork, they said.
Jami was taken to Jefferson Parish Jail and booked for battery on a police officer, resisting an officer, and interfering with an educational facility.
“Just because you used excessive force to say that you restrained him and you bust your knuckle do not mean you can charge him with battery on a police officer,” Jami’s mother said.
Following the video circulating online, a chaotic scene broke out at the Marrero school on Friday.
On Friday, students at Higgins said those images led to a protest that resulted in extra JPSO officers having to be called in. Students gathered, upset, to voice their opposition to how the incident was handled.
Jami’s family says they are now hiring an attorney, and will meet with school officials on Monday.
JPSO officials said Jami is still being held in jail. During the protests on Friday, two fights broke out and one student was arrested, they said.