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New trial date set for former Idaho Falls teacher accused of assaulting student

Crime Watch

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IDAHO FALLS – The trial for a former Idaho Falls teacher accused of assaulting a student more than a year ago has been rescheduled.

Former Eagle Rock Middle School teacher Jared Emfield, 46, is facing several misdemeanor charges for allegedly slamming a student against a wall and threatening him while pinning him to the ground. He was originally charged with one count of misdemeanor battery and pleaded not guilty last April.

Additional misdemeanor charges were filed against Emfield in January, including one more count of battery, two counts of assault, a charge of false imprisonment and disturbing the peace.

Magistrate Judge Wiley Dennert heard arguments from the defense and prosecution as a trial got underway on April 14. Hours into it, Emfield’s attorney, Allen Browning, asked the court to declare a mistrial in the case, which the judge granted.

In a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com, Browning explained the reason for the mistrial was because the prosecution “introduced illegal evidence” that had “nothing to do with the trial.”

“It was very prejudicial and never should have been mentioned,” Browning says. “In this case, someone said something bad (about my) client that wasn’t true. For us to get into that and prove that it was not true would have taken so much time from the real issues of the trial. The only way (Emfield) could be treated fairly at that point was to start over.”

Browning declined to offer any specifics about the evidence that was presented.

A new trial date has been set for Sept. 6. It could last up to four days but Browning anticipates it will take no more than two.

Eagle Rock Junior High School 2
Photo by Justin Benziger

Emfield’s encounter with the student is alleged to have occurred outside Emfield’s classroom, which was in a manufactured trailer on the north side of the school. The location of the confrontation was in a blind spot for the school security cameras so no footage exists, according to the assistant principal. Student cell phone video was used as evidence in the investigation.

RELATED | Former Idaho Falls teacher facing charges after allegedly slamming and pinning student

An officer spoke with the school’s assistant principal shortly after the alleged incident occurred. He provided details about what happened.

The student, whose name was redacted in the police report, was with an adult aide throughout the fight with Emfield.

The assistant principal told the officer the argument between Emfield and the student began when the student said he did not want to do an assignment Emfield had planned.

“(The student) and Jared began to argue in the classroom,” the assistant principal told the officer. “(The student) has struggled in the past to control his emotions when confronted with conflict. (The student’s) behavior plan includes exiting a classroom before the conflict turns physical.”

There were about 20 students in the classroom. As Emfield and the student reportedly continued to argue, the aide intervened and took the student outside.

Emfield is alleged to have followed them outside the door that enters the main school building. The assistant principal said Emfield “body-slammed (the student) near the exterior door just outside of the building.” The aide tried to intervene, and Emfield threatened him as well, the report says.

Additional context was provided in separate conversations with the student and his aide.

The student told the officer Emfield yelled at him and called him a punk as he and the aide got up to leave. The student had told Emfield he didn’t want to do the assignment. The student said he left when Emfield told him he still had to do it.

“(The student) yelled at Jared and flipped him off,” the officer writes in his report.

The aide also said Emfield later was taunting the student to fight by the words he was using.

Emfield said he would get the school resource officer if the student touched him, the aide told police.

“(The aide) … told Jared, ‘The same goes for you,’” the officer writes. “Jared followed him and got in his face near the brick wall by the exterior door going into the school. (The student) said Jared was so close to him, he lifted his forearm up in an attempt to create some space.”

The student allegedly touched Emfield and gave him a slight push so he would back away, and that’s when Emfield grabbed the student’s arms and pushed him into the brick wall.

“Jared threw him on the ground and then sat on him,” according to the police report. “(The student) said his head was against the outside door. He explained the door was propping and pushing his head up and it hurt his neck.”

While Emfield was reportedly sitting on the student, the aide touched Emfield on the shoulder to get his attention and said Emfield couldn’t treat students like this.

“Jared looked at (the aide) and said, ‘If you touch me again, I will break your arm,’” the police report says.

Emfield allegedly got off the student and allowed him to stand once the student started apologizing.

Police did not see any marks on the student’s neck or back but say there was some “redness on his upper left shoulder blade.”

In March, Browning explained Emfield, who is a judo instructor, was defending himself. He says the student was punching his client and Emfield used a “gentle,” harmless technique that’s designed to stop bullies from touching you.

Browning describes Emfield as a “great teacher” and a “wonderful, gracious man.” He says there’s a lot of injustice in the public school system where teachers are not allowed to protect themselves. He’s confident the end result of the trial will be a favorable outcome for his client.

“All my kids were in his karate classes. They had a great experience with him and he was my karate teacher,” says Browning. “It’s just a shame that we’ve got an out-of-control kid that has enough power in the (educational) system to where they want to listen to (the kid) instead of the teacher.”

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