The incident took place last week as school was starting. School officers were urging student running late to get into their classrooms. One of those students was Francisco Martinez, who is in a wheelchair.
Resource officer Marchell Mitchell began to push Martinez’s wheelchair, but the student objected and then slapped the officer’s hands away.
That is when district officials say Mitchell snapped.
“He then responded in an extremely emotional manner, basically by snapping and punching the student several times and dumping him out of his wheelchair and onto the floor,” explained Troy Flint, Oakland Unified School District spokesman.
Marchell Mitchell was immediately fired and arrested by Oakland police, but the issue didn’t go away. At a board meeting a few days later many angry parents came to speak out against Mitchell.
The district later offered a formal apology to Francisco Martinez and his family.
“We as a district apologize to the family of the victim,” Flint said.
The school’s principal, Matin Abdel-Qawi, also wrote a letter to all parents at the school detailing what happened and vowing that it was being investigated fully.
“I’m shocked and deeply hurt by this behavior and apologize on behalf of the staff at Oakland High,” the principal wrote. “This incident is not reflective of the kind of culture we cherish at our school or how we treat one another.”
He added, “It was an aberration, but a severe one, and I assure you I’m treating this with the utmost concern.”
Marchell Mitchell has been charged with corporal injury to a child or child abuse for attacking the student in the wheelchair. He has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for June 16.