OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — A group of students at a high school in Oakland are voicing support for a security guard who was recently fired for hitting a student in a wheelchair, in an incident caught on camera.
According to the Oakland Unified School District, security officer Marchell Mitchell smacked the student across the head several times before dumping out of his wheelchair at Oakland High School on May 19th.
The student, Francisco Martinez, has cerebral palsy.
“Complete shock and disgust that an employee, who is entrusted with protecting and safeguarding children, would violate that trust,” said school district spokesperson Troy Flint.
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Officials said the guard asked Martinez, a freshman, to go to class. When the student either refused to move or was slow to move, the guard handcuffed him and started pushing his wheelchair.
After Martinez spat in the guard’s face, the district said the guard snapped. Mitchell was arrested and the district fired him.
“We just want to reiterate our apologies to Francisco and to his family,” Flint said.
Despite the violent attack, Oakland High students started a petition demanding the school to bring back the popular security guard. They said the victim is a known troublemaker and provoked the attack.
On Friday morning, Martinez was confronted by classmates, who chanted “Free Mitch.”
The district told KPIX 5 that Mitchell won’t be coming back.
“The kids need to understand this is not an incident of violence that is peer-to-peer. The security officer is an adult,” Flint said.