A Texas police officer is on leave after video surfaces of him tripping students. High schoolers say they were just trying to celebrate their school's championship win as they rushed the field.
GEORGETOWN, Texas (KVUE) -- The Vandegrift girls soccer team claimed the 4A title after beating Wylie East this weekend.
It's the first time any soccer program from the Austin area has won the state championship but that's not the only thing parents and students are talking about days after. Many are outraged after witnessing a Georgetown police officer tripping and pushing students as they rushed the field to celebrate.
Police say video footage showed Officer George Bermudez tripping one person, attempting to trip another, physically restraining another person and shoving a fourth person as people leaped from the stands after Vandegrift High School won the state championship Saturday.
"We get in the dog pile and it's just crazy you know," said Gray Goolsby, a Vandegrift student who joined in the celebration.
But before long Goolsby felt a tug on his back.
"I felt this hand grab my shoulder and just pull me out of the dog pile and says, 'Get back to the stands,'" said Goolsby.
Goolsby says he holds no ill will against the officer who he believes was just trying to do his job.
"I hope he doesn't lose his job over this because we were just trying to have fun, and he's just trying to do his job, and hopefully everything works out," said Goolsby.
"These kids were excited. They wanted to celebrate," said parent Karen Morse. Morse's daughter is a junior on the team. "It was so exciting. In fact, it was so exciting, I jumped up and almost blacked out and hit the woman in front of me!"
Karen Morse watched as her daughter's hard work paid off but something else on the field also caught her attention.
"All the kids are jumping over, friends, boyfriends, everybody's just running. Then I see this police officer just sticking out his leg," she said.
In the video, you see a student hit the ground then limp away. Bermudez then sticks out his leg in an attempt to trip a girl, then grabs another student and pushes him away and then another girl is pushed to the ground.
"They just wanted to, you know, go and celebrate with the girls basically and have a good time," said sophomore Rohan Gupta. "We're just kids running on to a field to celebrate our team and it was kind of too much. It was kind of a cheap shot going for his legs," he said.
Gupta also caught it on his phone and uploaded this video to YouTube.
"We've been inundated all day with not only media but concerned parents, not only from Central Texas/Georgetown but actually across the nation," said Georgetown Police Captain Roland Waits.
Waits said last year they named Bermudez officer of the year and now he's under investigation for misconduct.
"So naturally this is very alarming and concerning to us," he said.
"It wasn't like they were rowdy. They were just celebrating," said parent Lori Digesualda. "I hope that this doesn't overshadow all of the hard work and the dedication that the team, parents and coaches put in."
It was a sweet victory, turned sour. Now these parents have just one question: What was the wrong doing?
Bermudez has been with the Georgetown Police Department since 2005, and he is assigned to the Community Resources Unit. He's now on paid administrative leave.
The Georgetown Police Department Police Chief Wayne Nero issued a statement on Monday in response to the on-going internal affairs investigation:
"As would be appropriate given the circumstances, I have fielded a number of phone calls and emails regarding the recent actions of Officer Bermudez as depicted in the circulating videos. After personally watching the videos, the actions of my officer are very concerning to me as well. As the Chief of Police, it is my responsibility to ensure that this matter is investigated objectively, thoroughly, and in a timely manner without bias. We are doing just that.
I want to reassure the public that it is not the position of the Georgetown Police Department to neither condone nor tolerate misconduct of any type. This matter was immediately forwarded to the Professional Standards Division upon receiving notice of this incident. Given that we are a Civil Service agency governed by Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code, there is a well-defined process for investigating and rendering disposition of internal investigations and we are following that process. Consistent with allegations of similar nature, Officer Bermudez has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.
I realize there are many condemning Officer Bermudez and demanding his immediate termination. As an executive manager, it is my duty to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted into this matter and that all of the appropriate and relevant facts are gathered so that a well-informed disciplinary decision can be rendered. I can assure you that this will take place in a timely manner. As a leader, it is my duty to support Officer Bermudez as both a human being and as a troop for which I am directly responsible. As a leader, I can support Officer Bermudez through the process of accountability without condoning or supporting his behavior – that is what leaders do. "