COLLETON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Deputies arrested a 35-year-old school bus driver suspected of grabbing a 15-year-old boy's throat and slamming him into a window after the boy allegedly used the N-word.
The Colleton County Sheriff's Office charged Terris Devon Richard with simple assault and battery.
The incident started on Oct. 27 when a deputy responded to Colleton County Middle School in reference to a problem between a bus driver and a student. The deputy said when he arrived he saw the victim was crying, had red marks around his neck with the victim's t-shirt stretched out.
The victim said that he had been grabbed by the throat by the bus driver and that the bus driver slammed his head into the bus window. Investigators say that the assault was an ongoing incident between the victim and the bus driver.
The bus driver spoke out Monday night, admitting that what he did was wrong, but saying the entire situation could have been prevented. Richard, who is black, said he was upset with the student, who is white, for using the N-word on the bus.
Richard said he reported the student weeks earlier for using the word, but said nothing was done. On the day of the incident, according to the sheriff's office report, the victim used the N-word on the bus. Then, witnesses told deputies that Richard grabbed the student and slammed his head into the bus window.
The sheriff's office says that the driver did not drop the victim at the boy's home but drove the bus back to the bus office. According to the victim and witnesses, the driver made threats of physical harm to the victim multiple times on the way back to school. A witness told deputies Richard threatened to "shoot up" the student's house and "kill his daddy."
Investigators say one witness said he told the bus driver that he was not handling this right and asked the driver to leave the victim alone.
The brother of the victim told deputies that he saw the victim ask the bus driver why he got offended when he used the N-word to greet one of his friends. The brother said that the driver then threatened the victim with physical harm and said he witnessed the assault.
Another witness said he heard the argument and also saw the assault. That witness left through the emergency door of the bus to get help.
The witness said the there was arguing on the way back to school and said the driver told the victim that he was going to "drag the victim into the school by his neck until he breaks his wind pipe."
Children on the bus said a school employee was on the bus at the time of the incident. Richard has been fired from his job.