Chokehold or innocent horseplay? Questions surround video of unconscious metro student

Video shows a student unconscious on the floor of a Metro school. WSMV4 Investigates found conflicting reports of why it happened.
WSMV's Jeremy Finley discusses a recent investigation with Tracy Kornet.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - When Tocarro Brooks first saw the video of her 14-year-old daughter lying unconscious on the floor of a Metro school, hearing students laughing and other voices crying out, she felt her pulse rise.

“Oh my God, my heart was racing,” Brooks told WSMV4 Investigates.

Witness reports obtained by WSMV4 Investigates reveal conflicting accounts by the staff of how the student was injured.

When Brooks says she got the call on April 27th, she said a staff member reached out to tell her that her daughter was injured at Jere Baxter Middle School and needed to come quickly.

By the time she arrived, Brooks had said her daughter had a huge knot on her forehead and had been unconscious on the floor.

“She had a severe concussion, and she goes to the doctor every other week now,” Brook said. She has migraines every day.”

Brooks said her daughter remembers nothing about the incident that day.

Cell phone video recorded after her injury shows the girl lying unconscious on the floor, with students laughing and yelling around her, crying out, “Dead man!”

“And I got two different stories from two different officials at the school,” Brook said. “All (Brooks’ daughter) knew is that she heard the girl was choking her.”

That choking claim is mentioned by not one but two different staff witnesses.

One reported that a student had been horseplaying with Brooks’ daughter, grabbed the girl around the neck, and began to choke her.

That staffer said when Brooks’ daughter pulled away, she fell to the floor.

A second witness wrote that Brooks’ daughter was trying to get out of what seemed to be a chokehold.

But reports from the school’s principals and Dean of Students tell different stories.

Both cite security video that showed a “friend” had her arm around Brooks’ daughter’s neck, that the video shows “no observable signs of distress,” and that Brooks’ daughter lost her balance and fell to the ground.

“(I) still don’t know who told the truth,” Brooks said.

A spokesman for Metro Schools wrote in an email to WSMV4 Investigates, “I don’t see any evidence of conflicting reports…investigations need to take multiple pieces of evidence to find context and develop a more complete picture.”

Brooks said at the time of the incident, she asked to see the surveillance video but was told because it contained other juveniles, she couldn’t see it.

When Brooks asked WSMV4 to investigate, we then asked Metro Schools if Brooks could see the video to clarify what happened.

But we were told that the video had already been erased from the system when we made that request.

Brooks initially wrote WSMV4 Investigates about the incident in the spring but wanted to wait for an interview, hoping she could get answers through the superintendent of metro schools.

When Brooks said she couldn’t get the video and still didn’t get answers, she wanted to speak about it.

According to the Metro School spokesman, the other student involved in the incident was punished, but he could not elaborate on that punishment.

We asked Metro Schools for an interview to inquire about the conflicting reports, but they declined.

The Metro Schools spokesman said all the explanations for the incident were relayed to Brooks, but she denies that claim.