OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A security guard at a high school in Oakland has been arrested and charged with a felony for an assault on a student in a wheelchair, caught on video by school surveillance cameras.
According to a letter from Oakland High School principal Matin Abdel-Qawi to parents, a student in a wheelchair was lingering in a hallway as security officers urged them to get to class on May 19.
One security officer then ordered the student, identified as freshman Francisco Martinez, to move along and either Martinez didn’t comply or was slow to do so, according to Abdel-Qawi.
Martinez suffers from cerebral palsy. His delay prompted the security officer, identified as 23-year-old Marchell Mitchell, to push Martinez by his chair handles. Martinez objected by slapping the officer’s hands away, Abdel-Qawi said. The incident then escalated even further, according to the letter:
In response, the security officer handcuffed the student and continued to roll him toward class. At this point, the student turned around in his wheelchair and spat in the face of the [security officer].
The security officer then struck the student several times before dumping him from his wheelchair onto the floor, at which time another security officer intervened to restrain his partner.
Mitchell was arrested for assault, child abuse and other charges. Abdel-Qawi said Martinez was taken to the hospital for his injuries but was expected to recover. “I’m shocked and deeply hurt by this behavior and apologize on behalf of the staff at Oakland High,” Abdel-Qawi said in the letter. “This incident is not reflective of the kind of culture we cherish at our school or how we treat one another.”
Abdel-Qawi said the school district’s legal office and police department are reviewing policies, procedures, and training related to school security officers and their interaction with students.