Craigmont resource officer resigns after excessive force complaint

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Shelby County Sheriff's deputy has resigned following an internal investigation after a parent alleged he used excessive force against a student at Craigmont High School.

The student’s mother, Beatrice Settles, said it happened in September. She admitted her daughter got in trouble for wearing her hood during class, and the teacher sent her to the principal’s office. That’s when she says the administration went out of line.

"The principal just snatched the hood off her head," Settles said. "In him doing that, she had a ponytail. So he pulled her hair. So that’s how things got escalated.”

Joseph Woodfork

She said another administrator then told her daughter to leave school. When she did, Craigmont resource officer Deputy Joseph Woodfork confronted her. Settles said by then, her daughter had called her on FaceTime so she could see this happening.

"When she walked down the steps, he pushed her and said, ‘No you gotta go across the street.’ He pushed her causing her to almost fall,” Settles said.

After seeing the video, Settles said she went to Craigmont to confront the deputy herself.

In response, she said he pushed her against a wall, and threatened to charge her with disorderly conduct.

The next day, she called police and filed a report for assault. She also reported the deputy to his employer, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Settles said the complaint had been under investigation until she got a letter from SCSO on January 10. The letter stated, “The investigation has been completed and supports the conclusion that Shelby County Sheriff’s Office police & procedure had been violated. Deputy Sheriff Joseph Woodfork has since resigned...”

That didn't sit well with Settles, who said, "Resigning is a choice. I don’t think it should’ve been a choice for him to resign. He should’ve been fired.”

Police did say Settles’s daughter was “acting belligerent” and was suspended for the incident.

Former deputy Woodfork, who answered the door at his Cordova home, defended his character. He said he was a 23-year retired Air Force veteran.

"Never done anything to harm a child. Never would. I was doing my job,” Woodfork said.

He didn’t want to comment any more on the incident, saying there’s video of it, and that speaks for itself.

Settles said she hasn’t seen the body camera footage but she knows it exists. WREG filed a record request to be able to get it.

WREG also obtained Woodfork's personnel file, which showed he resigned before the sheriff's office could finalize six administrative charges, including violations of personal conduct, truthfulness and performance rules.

The file also showed Woodfork violated personal conduct and adherence to law rules with the sheriff's office in February 2019.

No charges have been filed in this case.

Shelby County Schools released the following statement to WREG about the officer: "Safety is our top priority and we take any allegations involving students very seriously. We are aware of a reported incident that occurred in September involving a school resource officer at Craigmont High. The officer was transferred from the school following the reported incident."

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