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Louisville Metro Police Officer Accused of Assaulting JCPS Students

A Louisville Metro police officer will appear in court Friday to face charges that he assaulted two students at a Jefferson County middle school while working as a school resource officer.

Jonathan Hardin, 31, was arrested Tuesday on charges including assault, wanton endangerment and official misconduct, according to police reports.

He was released from Metro Corrections Tuesday evening after posting a $25,000 bond, according to a spokeswoman for the jail.

Hardin is a school resource officer at Olmsted North Middle School. This is his first year as the resource officer for Olmsted; last year he was a resource officer at Moore Traditional High School, according to a JCPS spokesman.

Police allege that on Jan. 22 Hardin struck a 13-year-old with a closed-fist punch after reportedly seeing the student cut the lunch line in the school's cafeteria, according to an arrest warrant.

Hardin then charged the student with menacing and resisting arrest "based on facts he knew to be false and knowing he had no probable cause to do so," according to the report.

The 13-year-old was treated at Kosair Hospital for minor injuries to the mouth and face, according to the report.

In a separate incident on Jan. 27, Hardin--while still working as a school resource officer at Olmsted North--applied an "unauthorized choke hold" that rendered a 13-year-old unconscious, according to the arrest warrant.

Hardin allegedly handcuffed the 13-year-old when he regained consciousness and kept him out of class for the remainder of the day, according to the report. He then drove the student home and "failed to accurately report to the victim's parents what had occurred," according to the arrest warrant.

A medical examination of the victim showed that the unauthorized choke hold caused a loss of blood flow to the brain and resulted in "anoxic injury to the brain," according to the arrest warrant.

Dr. Bill Smock conducted the examination and concluded that Hardin's conduct "manifested an extreme indifference to the value of human life," according to the report.

Both incidents were captured by JCPS surveillance video, which have not been publicly released.

Olmsted North Principal Ryan Rodosky expressed concern about Hardin' behavior to his Louisville Metro Police supervisor following the incident on Jan. 22, according to JCPS spokesman Ben Jackey.

Jackey said it was Rodosky's understanding that Hardin was going to be removed from the school.

"Why that didn't happen is part of the investigation," Jackey said.

In both instances, police allege that Hardin violated department standard operating procedure for use of force, according to the police reports.

LMPD's standard operating procedure states that while force may be used in some cases, it cannot be used "unless other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or would reasonably be ineffective under the particular circumstances."

A "control hold" is defined as "a technique with a low probability of injury to the officer or subject," according to the standard operating procedure and the examples of such holds are written as "transport wrist-lock, straight arm-bar, leg sweep."

Hardin has been a Louisville Metro Police officer since November 2007, according to a spokesman for the department.

In a statement, LMPD Chief Steve Conrad called the allegations against Hardin "egregious."

Hardin has been suspended without pay.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.