Huron student faces assault charge in attack on middle-schooler
John Counts | AnnArbor.com
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.
An older student attacks a younger student in broad daylight while other students look on, some recording with phones the punch that breaks the boy’s teeth.
This is what happened to a 14-year-old Scarlett Middle School student as he walked home from school last December. The incident led to an assault charge for a 16-year-old Huron student, who is scheduled to appear in juvenile court Friday, according to Ann Arbor police.
The 16-year-old was officially charged in juvenile court with aggravated assault when a petition was filed last month. AnnArbor.com does not name juveniles involved in criminal cases unless they're tried as adults.
The 16-year-old seemingly chose the 14-year-old victim at random, according to the police report, obtained from Ann Arbor police via the Freedom of Information Act. The boy also told an accomplice, a 15-year-old Huron student not charged in the incident, to record the fight, according to the report.
The 16-year-old had been suspended from school earlier that day and witnesses told police he was looking for anybody to fight at the bus stop.
“He was going to make sure he did something to be suspended about,” a witness told police.
Ann Arbor Public Schools is not legally able to comment about any student's discipline record, said spokeswoman Liz Margolis, so the details of the fight in the hallway are unknown. It's also not known whether the student was suspended after the attack on the 14-year-old.
Margolis could say that to date 23 students at Huron High School have been suspended this school year, but that there have been no expulsions, which means the 16-year-old wasn't kicked out of school after being charged with assault.
‘Get that little kid'
The 16-year-old and 15-year-old Huron students were dropped off around 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 at a bus stop near Scarlett Middle School, where the 14-year-old was leaving for the day, the report states.
Crowds of students were along the streets on their way home in the area of Lorraine and LaSalle streets, the intersection within sight of Scarlett Middle School, where police were dispatched to a half hour later for an assault.
Witnesses told police the 16-year-old and 15-year-old walked up to groups of students at the corner. The 16-year-old started talking about how he wanted to make his suspension worthwhile and chased several kids in the group, attempting to strike them, the report states.
“He would confront them and say he was going to punch them and they would run away,” a witness told police, according to the report.
Then the students called to the 14-year-old boy, who was walking a different way home than he usually takes, his parents said.
“ Let’s get that little kid and go punch him,” a witness told police the 16-year-old said.
The 15-year-old boy told police the 16-year-old also asked him to record the fight on his phone.
Bleeding and unconscious
The 14-year-old boy told AnnArbor.com his recollection of the incident is a bit fuzzy.
“I don’t remember getting punched,” he said.
He does remember walking home from school using a different route than he normally took when a kid he recognized, possibly the 15-year-old, called him over.
“I don’t know what he was really trying to do, I think he was trying to lure me by saying stuff like he was going to give me his iPhone,” he said.
“As he was walking along, he could hear his name being called. He remembered that they had asked him to come over and hang with them,” Ann Arbor police Det. William Stanford wrote in the report.
All of the witnesses interviewed by police confirm the 14-year-old was coaxed over to where the older boys were standing with an invitation to hang out. The 14-year-old said he would have to ask his mother.
It was then that the 16-year-old suddenly hit the 14-year-old with a closed fist one time in the face, knocking him to the ground, according to the report.
The Huron students ran. The 15-year-old had captured part of the punch on his phone. The 14-year-old boy lay bleeding on the ground, unconscious. He later told police he never had a problem with the two boys in the past and that he had “no idea why these guys attacked him.”
Edward Broom, Scarlett’s assistant principal, was driving back to the middle school when he saw a group of students on the corner of Lorraine and LaSalle, so he slowed down to see what was going on, the police report states.
He noticed a woman was helping the 14-year-old, who had obvious injuries to his face. Broom then drove the boy, who had regained consciousness, back to the middle school where his parents and police were contacted.
"My mind was just completely disoriented,” the boy said. “I was just trying to figure out who I was, basically.”
His parents were both unable to immediately come to the school, so the boy’s uncle arrived and took him to the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital for his facial injuries.
"His lip was the size of a golf ball on the right side,” the 14-year-old's father told AnnArbor.com. “He had some teeth broken out.”
In the police report, the officer who visited the boy in the urgent care unit afterward noted he had a very swollen upper lip, swollen right cheek with redness, a small laceration on the right cheek below the eye and a bloodshot right eye. The boy also suffered a concussion.
“It just felt numb,” the boy said.
Police began investigating immediately.
The 16-year-old admitted to police he punched the boy when interviewed by detectives. He told police that while on the school bus, he heard someone had been picking on his sister.
He said he walked up to the 14-year-old boy, whom he thought was the culprit, and asked him nicely if he wanted to hang out, then hit him in the face with a closed fist “as hard as he could,” according to the police report. It wasn’t until later that he discovered it was not the 14-year-old who had been picking on his sister, he told police.
“He indicated he was very angry about what had occurred at school about being suspended, and he was looking to get his frustrations out and he was using (the 14-year-old) as a way to get these frustrations out,” Stanford wrote in the report. “He felt very bad for his actions and took responsibility for them.”
A petition, the equivalent of a warrant, was signed March 8 for a charge of aggravated assault, a misdemeanor punishable by one year of incarceration or a $1,000 fine. The 16-year-old will make his first appearance in court Friday.
Police also interviewed the 15-year-old boy who recorded the punch, but he was not charged. The boy said he hadn't posted the video to Facebook and erased it from his phone in the presence of police, according to the report, but not before investigators retrieved the video for review.
The 14-year-old boy was treated at the emergency room and released that same day. He did miss a couple of days of school while his face healed. His father said the Scarlett community really rallied around his son at that time.
“They sent a packet of cards and letters,” the father said. “It was touching to know that people really care.”
The boy, who likes video games and science fiction novels, said he received a lot of positive attention after the incident.
“I usually hang out with a small group of people," he said. "Most of the kids at school don’t really acknowledge me. I was acknowledged a bit more.”
Now a few months later, the boy's face is healed and he's ready to move on. The family has been frustrated by the lengthy legal process, but doesn't plan on attending Friday's hearing.
“I’m slightly interested, but I don’t feel like I should intervene,” the boy said, though he is interested to know what happens to the 16-year-old accused of hitting him.
The boy doesn't harbor any anger toward the 16-year-old, nor does his family.
“It seemed pretty typical of the kind of harassment that goes on between bigger kids and littler kids,” his father said. “I feel bad for the (suspect).”