Exclusive: Surveillance video shows school bus brawl

By Hatzel Vela  bio | email

A teacher arrested for assaulting a student said he did it because he felt threatened.

Joseph Hamilton was charged with assault and battery. An affidavit states Hamilton hit a student in the face and body, causing injury.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said Hamilton crossed the line, but said he sympathized with Hamilton.

"It is very much disappointing to watch the entire video. It's obvious that the kids don't have any respect for grown-ups," Cannon said.

Exclusively obtained surveillance video from inside the bus showed the scuffle that landed 28 year-old Hamilton in jail.

The video, which is almost two-hours long, showed the entire bus ride for the R.D. Schroder Middle School students who were leaving their after-school program, 21st Century.

On a phone interview, Hamilton said he was riding the bus at the request of the bus driver, who told him she needed help disciplining the students.

The kids are unruly and have no respect for anyone; They curse, call each other names and start fights, Hamilton said.

Half-way through the video, a brawl broke out where Hamilton is seen trying to control one of the students.

Hamilton said the boys first ganged up on him, then one of them punched him in his face and that's when he said he had no choice but to tackle the student to the seat.

Hamilton said he felt threatened and started fighting for his safety.

Cannon was blown away by what he saw. He said it's a sad statement on the state of the schools and a bad reflection on these kids' parents.

"If I were the parents of some of those kids on that bus, I'd be terribly upset with the lack of respect that they showed the teacher and the bus driver," Cannon said.

Hamilton is a recreational instructor at the after school program and is also a part time physical education teacher at other Hollywood schools.

The Charleston County School District suspended Hamilton without pay. Live 5 News learned the bus driver was also disciplined.

The identities of the students involved were not released because they are minors. Both are said to be 14 years-old and both were charged.

The one directly involved in the fight was charged with assault and battery, interfering with the operation of a school bus and threatening the life of a public official.