A Kentucky teacher who was seen in a viral video holding a student to the ground and pulling his hair was fired from his position, Insider reports.
William Bennett, who taught science at Marion C. Moore School in Louisville, Kentucky was terminated last month by acting superintendent Marty Pollio, Ed.D., after an internal investigation discovered that Bennett had "escalated the situation" and made "inappropriate comments" about the student in August 2021.
According to the letter, 16-year-old Jamir Strane appeared to have punched Bennett in the back of the head. Bennett then "caught the student" and put his "whole body weight on top of him."
A series of videos that went viral on social media show students yelling, "Get the f--k off him!" to Bennett and trying to help Strane get out from under the teacher.
The camera footage also showed that when another adult arrived on the scene, Strane began to walk away from Bennett. But the teacher "proceeded to engage in the altercation." He then followed Strane “down the hallway, had a verbal exchange with the student, and kicked him.”
According to the letter, Bennett admitted to saying something to Strane "about being shot," which caused the initial verbal incident.
In the report, an anonymous student said he had overheard Bennett say to Strane that he was "just another Black boy that got shot."
Bennett told investigators that when he was separated from Strane, he tried to go to the counselor’s office, but the surveillance video showed that he was at least 10 feet past the office and that he never made any attempts to walk inside, WHAS 11 reports.
According to a report from Child Protective Services, Bennett’s comments were "triggering" for Strane, "who suffers ongoing emotional trauma as a previous gunshot victim."
Bennett told district investigators that he did not believe his comments were triggering because Strane had bragged about the shooting on previous occasions.
In the report, Bennett referenced the Kentucky state statute on self-defense and force, "which allows a person to use physical force to defend themselves if they believe it is necessary to protect against the use of imminent force by another person.” Also, he showed investigators pictures of his non-white family members to "dispel any myths of being a racist portrayed in the media."
Traci Hunt, the principal of Marion C. Moore School, told investigators that Bennett refused to complete the school’s mandatory implicit bias training and was involved in a previous incident with a school counselor. Given Bennett's track record, she had concerns about his aptitude as a teacher even before the most recent altercation.
Erica Strane, Jamir’s mother, has filed a lawsuit against Bennett and Jefferson County Public Schools. According to her attorney, Aubrey Williams, it alleges that Bennett "slammed and pummeled Jamir, restraining him while yelling obscenities, profanity, and racial slurs at him."
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, claims that Jamir suffered "physical, mental, emotional stress, strain, and humiliation" because of the incident.