Eight schoolteachers from Meadowlawn Elementary School in Indiana have sued the local sheriff’s department after a traumatizing course of “active shooter” training allegedly left them physically and psychologically scarred.
Active shooter training with the White County Sheriff’s Department was “one of the most terrifying experiences of [their lives],” the educators alleged in a lawsuit filed last week, claiming they were shot at point-blank range with airsoft guns and otherwise terrorized above and beyond the normal active-shooter drill procedure. They have demanded a jury trial, with some saying the experience forced them into early retirement.
“The teachers displayed obvious signs of anguish and physical pain, but were humiliated to find the law enforcement officers joking and laughing at them,” the teachers charged in their complaint, filed in northern Indiana federal court and revealed by local media on Tuesday.
The terrifying and inexplicable experience left the teachers with lasting physical and emotional injuries.
Not only were the teachers “struck by high-velocity plastic bullets,” they were “subjected to verbal threats, expletives, and screaming,” the lawsuit reads.
One teacher was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the training, which took place last January and came to the public’s attention last March during an Indiana General Assembly committee meeting. Police told local media they stopped using the pellet guns after they were “made aware that one teacher was upset,” but the teachers’ statements suggest quite a bit more was amiss than one overly-sensitive educator.
Teachers were broken up into small groups and ordered to kneel facing the wall, at which point they were shot across their backs “execution-style” by sheriff’s deputies, according to the complaint. “This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,” police allegedly told the helpless educators. They were subsequently shot again with the pellet guns during drills where they were ordered to hide in classrooms, throw tennis balls at the officers playing the role of school shooters, and attempt to barricade doors.
The officers allegedly relished their role, sauntering down the hallways yelling out obscenities and threats like “I’m going to kill you all,” according to teachers’ statements. The teachers were ordered not to tell their colleagues about what they had endured.
The purported abuse was part of a type of active-shooter training known as ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). That type of training does not normally involve the use of pellet guns.
One teacher claimed they were left with a permanent scar from the airsoft bullets, while others had injuries that took days or weeks to heal – to say nothing of the “severe emotional distress” that led more than one teacher to lose all faith in law enforcement and experience a loss of trust in humanity in general. Two of the teachers involved in the suit acknowledged seeking psychological help after the training.
The Indiana State Teachers’ Association lobbied lawmakers last year to include language protecting teachers from being shot with any kind of ammunition in a school safety bill.
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