A man seen on viral video shoving, then punching a preteen girl to the ground outside a North Carolina mall has been charged with assault.
Off-duty officers arrested David Steven Bell, 51, at the Asheville Mall on Saturday evening where authorities say a fight involving juveniles suddenly broke out, local station News 13 reported.
Bell now faces one count of assault on a female under the age of 12, along with two counts of assault on a female.
Video of the incident, which has been widely circulated on social media, shows a raucous scene outside the mall where a large group of young Black teenagers are gathered. Bell, who is white, is seen standing in the middle of the crowd as the youths shout at him.
At one point, the camera turns away from the scene. One of the girls then shoves Bell in the back. She approaches Bell again and he pushes her. The teen tries approaching a third time, and he punches her in the face, knocking her unconscious.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!,” a girl filming the incident screams as the teens scattered.
It’s unclear what transpired before the video started rolling.
The scene sparked a slew of angry reactions on social media, where it spread like wildfire. However, there were those who defended Bell, asserting that the situation could’ve been avoided had the teens not provoked him.
“Clown didn’t have to hit that girl in the face like that, fuck are these people talking about?” one man wrote on Twitter. “Was he afraid of a 100 pound female with no weapon to the point he punches her like she’s a man? No excuse for that shit and anyone trying to justify that hoe shit is all the way foul.”
“So we give an age limit to someone being allowed to touch someone? I’m NOT condoning any of their behavior but teach your kids not to touch anybody should be the lesson not an age limit to touch someone,” one woman argued.
Another user agreed, writing, “I think from this video those girls/young women caused this to go down.”
“I’ll never understand how Black men are in these comments trying to tap dance for the appeal of the white man,” another user rebutted, ignoring other women who also argued against the child’s behavior. “Regardless of how the situation seems I’m NEVER ok with a white man hitting a black woman ever. Especially a child. Buddy would have gotten rocked period. They are kids.”
Asheville Police spokeswoman Christina Hallingse told Atlanta Black Star the incident is still under investigation. She noted that all victims at the time of the incident refused transport to the hospital for treatment.
The Asheville Mall also released a statement via Twitter: “We are aware of the videos circulating on social media. The @AshvillePolice responded immediately and the situation was diffused. An arrest has been made. Please contact the Asheville Police Department for further questions.”
Watch more in the video below.
There was some type of altercation outside of a mall, and an adult SWS male viciously and cowardly attacks a small teenage Black girl. We need to identify this man pic.twitter.com/w9SZ96Rl6d
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) January 13, 2019