Family of teen arrested in school bus fight claims he wasn't involved

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston police arrested a total of six students Thursday afternoon on various charges after a report of a fight on a school bus.

Three students were charged with interfering with the operation of a school bus. Another student was charged with simple assault on the driver, according to North Charleston Deputy Chief David Cheatle.

Three other students are charged with both assault on a law enforcement officer while resisting arrest and interfering with the operation of a school bus, he said. Police said those three students were taken to North Charleston Police headquarters, booked and taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Friday afternoon the mother and grandmother of a teen arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer said he didn't do it.

"He was sitting in the front of the bus and he said he heard the kids with the commotion in the back and brought it to the driver's attention," said Vonshonda, the mother of the boy. "He told her that they were back there fighting, and that's when she called the police."

Police responded Thursday at approximately 3:56 p.m. to the corner of Dobson Street and Remount Road, according to North Charleston Police spokesperson Spencer Pryor.

The bus driver told police four students had been disrupting the operation of the school bus ever since it left North Charleston High School by jumping seats, assaulting one another, pulling each other's pants down and approaching and cursing at her while she was driving the bus. She said one of them kicked her while she was driving.

While the officer attempted to arrest one of the students, a struggle ensued during which a second student grabbed the officer's arm in an attempt to prevent the officer from arresting the first student, the incident report states.

Police say additional officers who responded were able to place the student under arrest.

A video taken by a student shows officers trying to restrain the boy.

"Terrified. I was hurt, I was traumatized," said Ann, the grandmother. "The abuse my grandson had to suffer... the cops kicking him in the groin and pulling him out of the seat - it was very upsetting to me."

The school bus has a camera which recorded the incident in its entirety, it's been handed over to police and Durham School Services. The two family members have yet to see that video and are seeking answers as to how this all started. Ann said she's taught her kids to obey the law and respect officers.

"When you teach them even at home they don't have to be afraid of the officers, they have gotten an attitude because of the way they (police) have approached them from what I've acquired from talking to the children," Ann said.

"He should have just let them put the handcuff on him," Vonshonda said. "That's the only thing he did wrong, but then he got charged with assault and I didn't see him hit an officer."

During the arrest of a second student, a third charged at the arresting officer, who then pulled out his stun gun and pointed it at that student, who then backed off and was subsequently arrested as well, the report states.

"It's sad," Vonshonda said. "It's just sad."

Another student the driver identified as having been involved in the fracas on the bus was taken into custody, the report states.

Several of the students resisted arrest and displayed disruptive behavior, the report states.

The identities of the students have not been released because of their ages. The incident report is heavily redacted to remove the names of multiple juveniles who were involved.

Family members anticipate their loved ones being in the juvenile detention center until Tuesday.

One officer suffered minor injuries during the struggle and was taken to Roper Northwoods for treatment and x-rays, the report states.

Police say body-worn camera and in-car camera footage was reviewed and it was later determined one officer's body camera malfunctioned. The report states that at some point while on the bus, the officer's camera was taken or fell off and was later thrown out the window of the bus by an unidentified person. The officer was shown on camera picking it up from the sidewalk and putting it back on, the report states.

The school district received a request for a copy of footage from the on-bus camera as well, the report states.

Messages to both the North Charleston Police Department, City of North Charleston, and Charleston County School District for comment regarding the incident and the student-video were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.