Detroit public schools superintendent responds to video of freshman being thrown to ground

Video of assistant principal throwing student to ground sparks lawsuit


DETROIT – The superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District is responding to a federal lawsuit sparked by video of a freshman being thrown to the ground by an assistant principal.

The school district, its security company, the assistant principal and a resource officer are all named in the lawsuit. They're accused of crossing the line when a freshman got kicked out of West Side Academy.

Surveillance video shows Elijah Wynn getting pushed out of two sets of doors after trying to get his wallet he had left behind 40 minutes after dismissal.

Elijah, 14, was thrown to the ground, and the man caught on camera forcing him out of the building is the assistant principal at West Side Academy, officials said.

"Usually our practice is not to respond, but I did want to address that I was aware of the incident. DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.

While Vitti was aware of the tussle, the DPSCD school board was not aware of what the cameras captured until after Local 4 reported the details outlined in the federal lawsuit.

"There are many issues that occur within the district," Vitti said. "I try to keep the board aware of things that are high level."

"That didn't warrant letting the board know of an incident with this principal?" Local 4's Jermont Terry asked.

"I think it depends on when you view the video, which I did," Vitti said. "When you see the video, you see the AP move the student out of the building. That's the vantage point I saw on camera."

A school resource officer is accused of breaking Elijah's jaw after punching him in front of security.

"Was anyone disciplined?" Jermont asked. "Either the school resource officer or even the security team that watched all of this?"

"No," Vitti said. "Based on the investigation, there was no direct evidence that we would take a disciplinary action."

After an investigation, Vitti said the video was clear.

"When we reviewed this incident, we felt the AP was moving the student out of the building, and that's what I have seen as far as the video is concerned," Vitti said.

"I'd ask him -- I think we're looking at different videos," said Jon Marko, Elijah's attorney.

Marko said he can't believe the district would try to defend what's seen on the video.

"It shows an educator body-slamming a young man on the pavement," Marko said. "Calling that escorting is ridiculous."

Vitti said he will defend the assistant principal in the lawsuit.

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