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Teacher says cop pointed gun her way

A kindergarten teacher claims a Nevada City Police Officer pulled a gun and pointed it directly at her the evening of April 26 as she stood alone in her classroom at Nevada City Elementary School, and parents are demanding an explanation of the incident from law enforcement.

Daria Kieswetter, the teacher involved, said she did not file a complaint with the Nevada City Police Department, but sought treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the incident.

She said an officer, allegedly responding to a call from a citizen concerned that several windows at the elementary school were open at around 5 p.m., entered her classroom and pointed his gun at her with both arms extended in front of him, both hands on the gun.

“He asked me who I was, then put the gun down,” Kieswetter said.

Kieswetter said she was standing behind her desk, preparing for the next school day.

“I was startled,” she said.

Nevada City Police Chief Lou Travato said he spoke with the officer involved and the sergeant on duty and apparently got a very different story.

“He did not point the gun at her,” Travato said. “It’s hard for me to believe a police officer would point his gun at someone for no reason. If anything like that happened you would fire someone.”

The officer arrived at the school and tried to open at least two doors, which were locked, Travato said.

“He had to crawl through one of the windows,” Travato said. “While he was searching around and yelling to see if anyone was there, he heard some rustling and then he drew his gun and put it at the ready. He went to where the noise came from and once he confronted the teacher at the door, he put the gun away and asked her who she was.”

Travato said the officer told him his gun was pointed down against his leg at a 45-degree angle, standard procedure when an officer is clearing a building in which there could be a burglary occurring.

“The officer was following normal procedure when an unknown subject could be in there,” Travato said.

Parent Michael Anderson said the officers’ alleged actions are unacceptable.

Anderson’s child, along with two other children, were playing outside behind the school in a playground when the officer entered the school.

“My problem is, why is a police officer not doing a good job evaluating the situation and pulling a gun at my kid’s preschool?” Anderson said.

No one, including the children, witnessed the incident between Kieswetter and the officer.

Kieswetter denied comment in the days following the incident, but came forward with her story Friday after she heard of Travato’s version of events.

Nevada City School District Superintendent Roger Steel said Kieswetter has returned to the school after a break.

“She’s been back at the school for a week and it’s working out well,” Steel said. “We’re here to support our teacher any way we can and to make sure she feels safe and supported by meeting any needs she has.”

He said the parents of the children in the kindergarten teacher’s class were notified of the incident, and a faculty meeting addressing the incident took place the day after it occurred.

Travato said he and his officers reviewed the incident and found there was no wrongdoing on the officer’s part.

Kieswetter said she would like police to evaluate their procedures.

“I would like some change,” she said. “What bothers me is what the police are saying. I told (the officer) he could have killed me.”

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To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@the union.com or call 477-4236.


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