Stockton schools officials say they are trying to get to the bottom of a Marine recruiter’s blindside open-field tackle of sparring students at a Stockton high school this week.
A student’s cellphone video captured the moment Wednesday when campus recruiter Pfc. Valdez Sarmiento sprinted toward the two boys on the grounds of Edison High School and plowed through the teens, knocking the pair flat before appearing to try to separate them.
On the video, Sarmiento rose to his feet after the tackle, scooped up one of the students and plopped him to the ground before walking away. A second student remained on the ground appearing to writhe in pain as other adults converged to tend to the two.
“We are actively investigating the situation,” Stockton Unified School District officials said Friday in a statement.
Video of the violent take-down spread quickly across social media and local television with voluminous reaction on the Facebook page for community news website 209 Times both praising Sarmiento’s quick action and criticizing the Marine’s actions as outsized.
About 13,000 comments had been posted to 209 Times’ Facebook page by 2 p.m. Friday. It had been shared more than 2,500 times.
The website’s administrators in a post of the tackle Wednesday question Sarmiento’s tactic as well as school staffers’ initial reaction to the fight that brought a sprinting Sarmiento to the scene in the first place. A longer version of the video that appeared on Facebook showed the two students wildly throwing punches uninterrupted by Edison staffers. Adults arrived on the scene after Sarmiento blitzed the pair.
“What we are posting that parents may find concerning is a Marine recruiter blindside tackling a student so hard to break up the fight that if appears he hurts the student and does more damage than the actual fight itself,” 209 Times wrote.
Phone calls to Marine Recruiting Station Sacramento where Sarmiento is attached went unanswered Friday morning, but Sarmiento’s commanding officer, Maj. Ted Driscoll defended the private in an interview with CBS13.
“He saw a situation and he took action to stop further dangerous actions from happening,” Driscoll told CBS13. “That instinct was correct. However, we seized that opportunity to discuss with him how there are different ways to do that in the future.”