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Student arrested, released following Palmetto school bus incident

Posted: 4:35 PM, Oct 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-26 17:37:04-04

The deputy who arrested a student accused of hitting a bus driver unholstered his weapon because he felt threatened by the boy’s relatives, St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said.

The 15-year-old student was arrested Thursday on second-degree battery. He has been released into the custody of his mother, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The deputy had to physically restrain the student,” Guidroz said of the incident, which KATC first reported earlier this week. “At no time was this juvenile hit, hurt, scratched, he did not have a gun pointed at him, he was not injured by the deputies.”

However, the sheriff said, at one point when he was trying to restrain the 15-year-old boy – who Guidroz alleges was fighting the deputy – the boy’s family members “and others” in the classroom began to approach the deputy from behind.

“The officer felt compelled to unholster his weapon to ward off the approaching threat,” the sheriff said. “That’s what he’s trained to do. That’s what he’s supposed to do – ward off a threat without firing a shot.”

The officer never pointed the weapon at anyone in the room, he said. Another deputy arrived, the student was cuffed and placed in the car, Guidroz said.

Investigators are still gathering evidence and speaking to witnesses, he said.

The bus driver is expected to be ok, he said.

When asked about possible charges, he said hitting a bus driver would be assault and battery, and threatening a deputy would be threatening the life of a law enforcement officer.

“We expect to make arrests,” the sheriff said. “I can’t tell you right now who will be arrested. But we are going to make arrests.”

St. Landry Parish School Superintendent Patrick Jenkins says that they will be following all proper procedures. Once those are complete the student involved in the incident will be recommended for expulsion.

KATC reached out the family of the bus driver but they say they will not be speaking to the media at this time. They did say that they are solely focused on his health and recovery.

WATCH: Click here to WATCH LIVE on Facebook.   KATC is at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office Complex in Opelousas for the update.

Deputies say the incident happened on Tuesday afternoon. More on the incident can be viewed below.


 

St. Landry Parish deputies are investigating conflicting stories about an incident involving a high school student and a bus driver that sent the driver to the hospital.

According to deputies, the 15-year-old from North Central High School student is being questioned after allegedly punching the bus driver Tuesday in Palmetto.

The bus driver will not be questioned until he is no longer medicated.

The family of the student tells KATC that the bus driver initiated the confrontation. It is unclear exactly what happened on the bus, but deputies say statements from witnesses have been taken. Investigators are also reviewing potential video evidence.

The bus driver was transported to a hospital with unknown injuries. Witnesses have told KATC that the driver was thrown to the ground outside the bus.

The family of the student has also claimed deputies used unnecessary force on the student while he was being detained. The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office says that body camera video from the deputy is being reviewed.

Students on board the bus Tuesday evening were from Palmetto Elementary and North Central High School. The bus serves the Melville and Palmetto areas.

St. Landry Parish School Superintendent Patrick Jenkins says that counseling will be provided on those campuses tomorrow for any student who need it following the incident.

The student will not be allowed back on campus until the investigation is complete.

The Sheriff’s Department has reviewed body camera footage from the incident, but cannot share the findings because the investigation is still ongoing.

The investigation continues into an incident involving a North Central High School student and a bus driver that sent the driver to the hospital.

Amid conflicting stories about what happened, more witnesses were questioned today. The school district is looking at ways to increase security on buses.

“We are definitely looking at using bus aides to mitigate behavior on the bus,” Superintendent Patrick Jenkins said.

Jenkins says, the district is considering other measures to keep students and bus drivers safe.

“In addition to that, we’re looking at purchasing the next round of buses to have cameras on the bus as well,” Jenkins said. “Which could also help capture any behavior that we have on the bus.”

News of Tuesday’s incident spread around Palmetto quickly. One lady we spoke to says, the best way to prevent an incident like this is to instill discipline in its students.

“I feel like it had a lot to do with it because people let the kids get away with too much,” Beatrice Stelly Noel said. “I think in the first place the driver should have respect. The kids should too, but the driver should have respect because the kids are out of control.”

Jenkins says the board is looking at options to help drivers and students.

“What we’re going to be looking at in the future the board and I have been discussing, possible solutions to mitigate behavior on our buses in St. Landry Parish,” Jenkins said.