Mission College Prep administrator accused of assaulting a student

Cal Coast Times has redacted the face of the student to protect his privacy. Russ Griffith is on the right.

An administrator at Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School in San Luis Obispo is on suspension after he placed a student in a headlock during lunch on Nov. 3. Several students then shared photos of the altercation on social media.

Photos show Russ Griffith, a former San Luis Obispo police officer, restraining a star of the football team in a carotid choke hold. In this type of hold, a person’s neck is placed in a V between an officer’s forearm and upper arm while pressure is applied to the carotid arteries on the sides of the neck.

The student was not injured in the alleged assault and he played football later that evening, a parent of another student said.

Shortly after 2 p.m., police were dispatched to the school to investigate the altercation. Less than two-hours later, officers listed the altercation as an assault, wrote a report, but did not make an arrest, according to the police department’s summary report.

“The department investigated the complaint which did involve Russ Griffith as the administrator in question,” said Captain Chris Staley. “The report will be sent to the District Attorney for review.”

Several parents at the school have voiced concerns over the alleged assault and the school’s lack of transparency. Multiple email and calls to the school requesting to speak to or have questions answered by either Griffith or Principal Michael Susank have not been returned.

Before moving to San Luis Obispo in 1994, Griffith worked as a police officer in Los Angeles, in a department that permits officers to use the carotid restraint, but restricts it to situations requiring deadly force.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department also allows officers to use the carotid control hold to restrain violent or combative individuals, according to department policy 300.3.5.

Officers are prohibited from using the carotid hold on juveniles “unless the totality of the circumstances indicates that other available options reasonably appear ineffective, or would present a greater danger to the officer, the subject or others, and the officer reasonably believes that the need to control the individual outweighs the risk of applying a carotid control hold.”


Department policy 300.3.5 Carotid Control Hold:

The proper application of the carotid control hold may be effective in restraining a violent or combative individual. However, due to the potential for injury, the use of the carotid control hold is subject to the following:

a) The officer shall have successfully completed department-approved training in the use and application of the carotid control hold.

b) The carotid control hold may only be used when circumstances perceived by the officer at the time indicate that such application reasonably appears necessary to control a person in any of the following circumstances:

     1. The subject is violent or physically resisting.
     2. The subject, by words or actions, has demonstrated an intention to be violent and reasonably appears to have the potential to harm officers, him/herself or others.

c) The application of a carotid control hold on the following individuals should generally be avoided unless the totality of the circumstances indicates that other available options reasonably appear ineffective, or would present a greater danger to the officer, the subject or others, and the officer reasonably believes that the need to control the individual outweighs the risk of applying a carotid control hold:

     1. Females who are known to be pregnant
     2. Elderly individuals
     3. Obvious juveniles
    4. Individuals who appear to have Down syndrome or who appear to have obvious neck deformities or malformations, or visible neck injuries

d. Any individual who has had the carotid control hold applied, regardless of whether he/she was rendered unconscious, shall be promptly examined by paramedics or other qualified medical personnel and should be monitored until examined by paramedics or other appropriate medical personnel.

e. The officer shall inform any person receiving custody, or any person placed in a position of providing care, that the individual has been subjected to the carotid control hold and whether the subject lost consciousness as a result.

f. Any officer attempting or applying the carotid control hold shall promptly notify a supervisor of the use or attempted use of such hold.

g. The use or attempted use of the carotid control hold shall be thoroughly documented by the officer in any related reports.

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16 Comments about “Mission College Prep administrator accused of assaulting a student”

  1. slomd says:

    Russ, a choke hold? Really? I’m sorry was the student brandishing a weapon or harming another student? Thank God everyone can walk around with the camera these days to give irrefutable evidence of bad behavior. You should be immediately fired, and brought up on assault charges and hopefully serve time in jail.
    I’d really like for the city or county also open up the records as to exactly why you were “let go”. Perhaps instead of being rewarded for bad behavior with an early retirement you should’ve been fired from There as well, without pension. Somehow it seems that certain city officials protect others at the taxpayers expense.

  2. PORAC says:

    Finally a TRO is in Place, as the of X officers and current ones grows in abundance for misconduct, wonder who and how many others have been abused by this XXX Officer and many others Officers who have been in trouble.

    The list is growing, why has not the DA or SLOPD filed charges ? remember other officers who are on the naughty boy and girl list of wrong doings. SLOPD Chad Pfarr, Aaron Schafer, Caleb Kemp, Ami Chastin, X DA investigator AJ Santana and the list is growing. Adding more corrupt Officers as J. Walsh, Travis Morris, Jorge Berrios and more to come.

    AB 301 will not nor should any dirty officer be protected by the Police Officers Bill of Rights, a corrupt, lying, dirty cop is just that a Lying, Dirty CORRUPT COP…They got to go along with a much needed review of how SLOPD fails to weed out the bad ones.

    Several of us have actually watched several current officers LIE Under Oath, lie in Crime Reports. Chad Pfarr, Aaron Schafer, Joshua Walsh….It is past time to conceal or cover up the evils within the San Luis Obispo Police Department no more cover ups Chief Cantrell. You may be “Gay” and like it that young children are being molested by adults but no more.

  3. laftch says:

    I am appalled. No, not by the actions of Mr Griffith. I am appalled by the atrocious number of grammatical, spelling and syntax errors in the comments on this article. An example of the unfortunate results of the lack of discipline in our public school system and the permissiveness of society.

  4. jorge Estrada says:

    MCP is a private school where allot of contracted out parenting occurs. Swift and safe consequences for bad behavior is best, no longer offered in public schools. He will be a better student, especially if his disciplinarian is commended for his learned skill.

  5. slosum says:

    Russ is a good guy. The kid deserved it. Russ would have been hailed and respected in my day, and the kid would have been either suspended or kicked out of school.

  6. insidelookingout says:

    Two sides to every story and we have only heard one side hear that is good for sensational headline print. Don’t know for sure but in today’s world there is very litlle respect left for authority. Maybe this kid is just use to diarreha of the month and no one has ever said anything to him because of his stature? Let’s wait for the other side to come out but in the meantime but there will be no cursing while Russ is around. I think he may have gained their respect. Like I have always said in order to achieve many things it is either gained by respect or fear.

    1. mblack says:

      he has gained our fear. fear that we will get hurt through his actions. please, this isnt a normal thing for a teacher, nonetheless a dean of students, to do. he should be fired immediately.

  7. slojustice says:

    Looks to me that Griffith is doing his job. “Football star” was not injured and the fighting stopped. I like the fact that the “football star” received no special treatment. I wish our schools had more proactive administrators. Thanks to former officer Griffith for helping teach and mold our young people.

    1. mblack says:

      “doing his job” sorry the last time i checked techers werent supposed to use physical force with students unless its an emergency (someone is getting hurt, etc). you are wrong.

  8. KrisHunter says:

    You should be ashamed of yourself posting this click bait, tabloid, crap article. You have no idea of the situation in which this has occurred. 75% of your so-called article is quoting regulations.

    I grew up in San Luis Obispo and I have known Russ since he came to be a SLOPD Officer and I know factually that you are turning this picture into a BS sensationalistic article. You had better remember that this man has a family in this town and you are trying to destroy his good name for some publicity on an article. Russ has done nothing but good things for this community.

    Where is your investigation gone with the circumstances surrounding this very large “Juvenal” and his actions leading up to this altercation? I’ll tell you, they would point out that the juvenile is a disrespectful antagonist. Your complete absence of any supporting documentation of the event from the juvenile perspective is evidence. Where is the video that you took a screen capture from to use as a picture?

    When this comes out to be a gross miss representation of your reporting will you have a full front-page retraction and apology? You are ruining your reputation you might have had for reporting.

    1. mblack says:

      hi, im a student at missioncollege prep and i can confirm that this happened. while russ is a lovely guy, he used force over a kid in my class saying f**k. it may seem like this is clickbait, but i witnessed this. it was in the cafeteria.

    2. PORAC says:

      No the many Police Departments he has had to come and go too should be ashamed he is a deeply troubled person, he has HISTORY file an FOIA, “Pitches” Motion etc he is a bad cop or now X Cop. He had issues while at SLOPD so he left.

      He once a few years ago had issues with young students at Laguna Middle School he had issues with school children all over, why do you think he exited SLOPD while under a probe ? his name is tarnished along with his also X buddies,

      Jim Fellows
      Travis Morris
      Cory Pierce,
      Kevin Wadell
      Scott Crammer
      ++++ the many others now gone from SLO PD some were indicted others arrested bad officers, other given the early retirements to get out.. Russ is just another bad apple, that hides behind the Badge… Shame on SLOPD for covering up more corruption in its own ranks.

  9. JulieJones says:

    This photo has been all over the web. Students are saying that Russ Griffith was upset about foul language and overreacted. Students also claim they heard Russ tell the student that he could kill him with one finger.

    Heard they brought Russ back from suspension today. Wow!

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