Nelson County students speak out after altercation with sheriff’s office

Officials closed schools Aug. 27 and Aug. 30 citing investigations

Nelson County Public Schools were closed Monday, citing an investigation by the sheriff's office after a social media posts threatened violence at the schools.

NELSON COUNTY, Va. – Nelson County High School students spoke out Monday after their classmate was involved in an altercation with members of the county’s sheriff’s office.

“The boy is 15 [years old]. He was not being aggressive or anything else. It shouldn’t have happened,” said student Saniya Allen.

A 55-second cellphone video, obtained by 10 News from Aug. 26, starts with sophomore Ti’lor Harper on the floor and two members of the sheriff’s department on top of him.

Ti’lor’s mother says her 15-year-old son was checking on a family member involved in an earlier incident.

“He was doing that and things escalated, and he was thrown down to the floor with excessive force, I believe, and two of his front teeth were chipped out,” said Amber Harper.

She says he’s still being detained at her request.

“Because of the negative and the positive out here, I didn’t want it to get to Ti’lor any kind of way,” said Harper.

She says he’s scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 16.

Following the Aug. 26 incident, Nelson County leaders closed schools on Aug. 27, citing an investigation and COVID-19 precautions.

Officials closed schools again on Aug. 30, as the sheriff’s office investigated threats of violence via social media.

Students were also planning a school-wide walkout in protest.

They want justice for Harper and to go back to school.

“Losing education is not the answer to this problem,” said student Jacqueline Amcgettigan.

“It’s not going to solve it at all. We’re not going to be quiet until we’re heard!” said Alvin Toliver, another student.

The sheriff’s office declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

We reached out to school leaders, but did not receive a response by the time this report was filed. A post on the district’s Facebook page says they plan on opening schools Aug. 31.

Nelson County Public Schools released this statement about the incident:

The Nelson County Public Schools community is saddened by the recent events that have impacted our school division over the past several days. We need to be very clear concerning our stance towards misconduct and as forthcoming as it relates to the recent social media threats made against our school division. Today, we made the decision to close our school buildings in response to threats of violence -- made over social media -- against our schools. The decision to close schools today was made in the best interest of safety and to allow law enforcement officials time to investigate these claims thoroughly. Throughout the day today, we have worked with the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office to assist them as they have worked their investigation. At this time, NCSO staff have identified those who made these threats and they determined that the individuals who did so did not have the means to carry them out. Based on the circumstances of the investigation, these are the only details we can release at this time. Again, there are no further known threats. We want to be clear: threats made against this school division will not be tolerated. At Nelson County Public Schools, we have no tolerance for threats of any sort, whether made in-person or online. Any threat made against our students or our school buildings, will be immediately reported to local law enforcement. All students must understand that making threats can, and will, result in serious legal and disciplinary consequences. As you know, these threats have caused a disruption to our student’s learning schedule. Accordingly, we have worked with the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office and they will be providing additional officers and extra layers of security at all four of our campuses on Tuesday. The safety of our students and staff is -- and always will be -- our top priority! We will continue to partner with the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office to ensure our buildings are safe. Additionally, we will continue to support all of our students in the most appropriate manner to process the recent events. We will provide them the opportunity to seek support in the additional counseling services and extra school staff provided to allow the sharing of their concerns or thoughts in a productive process. NCPS will resume school on Tuesday and return to the task at hand, which is preparing our students for success.

Nelson County Public Schools

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.