Investigation underway into racist bullies at Bloomfield Hills school

Legal expert: Minors could face ethnic intimidation charges

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – Instead of being in school Monday with classmates at Bloomfield Hills Middle School, 8th-grader Phoenix Williams was home working to keep up on assignments.

He's too scared to return to school.

"I really don't feel safe going back to school, at all, because both of them are going to be there," he said.

Phoenix is talking about the two classmates he videotaped calling the n-word. They were suspended but those close to the case say both students returned to class on Monday.

The district and Phoenix's mother contacted police and an investigation was launched. Since Phoenix was repeatedly called the n-word, verbally harassed and allegedly threatened that his phone would be broken if he told on them, some believe the minors may face ethnic intimidation charges.

Legal expert Neil Rockind said the video Phoenix captured helps tell the story and is key to an investigation.

"I'm so pleased that this young man had the wherewithal to take a video. Because the video tells us that it happened. Now the question is, how bad was it?" said Rockind.

Police have interviewed Phoenix and others onboard the school bus including two chaperones and a driver.

As for the Bloomfield Hills School District, the superintendent said action was taken but the punishment will not be revealed.

Rockind believes that is a mistake.

"They tout themselves as award-winning and this is a clear black eye on the conduct of students within the district," he said. "I think that they want it to go away."

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper is reviewing the case.

Watch: Child psychologist on how to talk to kids about racism

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.