A Pittsburgh, Pa., school district is being threatened with a lawsuit after a third incident of alleged abuse against Black students occurred last month.
Civil rights attorney Todd Hollis is representing two students who were threatened and abused in the Woodland Hills School District and he says Black students are the focus of a definite pattern of abuse, CBSPittsburgh reported.
“If a picture speaks a thousand words — and that picture clearly does — a video has to speak a million,” Hollis says at a press conference Tuesday, May 2.
Videos of the reported incidents of abuse played as the alleged victims and their families watched during the conference. In a March 2015 video, a then 15-year-old student was asked to go to the office. School resource officer Steve Shaulis put the victim in a headlock.
“Body slams him to the ground,” Hollis says narrating the clip. “Here comes Principal [Kevin] Murray. He holds the kid’s head down into the carpet, Shaulis is deploying his Taser.”
The Taser was shown to have been deployed three times.
Hollis said a 14-year-old student with special needs recorded Murray allegedly threatening him in April 2016 and another 14-year-old’s teeth were knocked out by Shaulis with Murray present last month.
“You’ll see Principal Kevin Murray come in and out of the scene,” Hollis says. “And you see the young man has not come out of the room that he just recently walked into.”
Murray and Shaulis’ attorney, Phil DiLucente, claims the principal didn’t know what happened until after the fact, but the video shows Murray was present.
“He was aware of it as anyone else was following the incident,” DiLucente says.
“We’re gonna turn over every stone,” Hollis says. “We’re gonna dot every ‘I,’ we’re gonna cross every ‘T’ to the extent that the facts lead us to filing [a] suit.”
Woodland Hills Superintendent Alan Johnson believes Hollis is using “isolated incidents” to create a “conspiracy.”
“What Mr. Hollis has done here is take two or three isolated incidents over the course of several years in a building of 1,700 students and has managed to weave that into a conspiracy,” Woodland Hills Superintendent Alan Johnson said.
“We are working with other agencies, both state and federal, to determine what if any crimes have been committed and which venue best addresses the issues presented,” Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.