Police report reveals different accounts of what happened at Whitehorse Middle School altercation
MADISON, Wis. — After Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced there would be no criminal charges against a Whitehorse teacher at the center of a weekslong investigation, the family of the girl involved expressed their outrage outside of the Ozanne’s office.
“That’s telling the world it’s OK to beat our kids,” the girl’s grandmother, Laronda Bryant, said. “But I’m going to tell you one thing. If the shoe was on the other foot, if my daughter would have done that to my granddaughter, they would have removed her from the home, all the rest of my grandchildren and she would be charged with a crime. But since it’s a white man that did it, a teacher, a political figure, it’s OK. It’s not a crime. I’m not going to let it go.”
After the Dane County District Attorney said no criminal charges would be filed against the Whitehorse Middle School teacher, the family of the young girl who allegedly had her braids ripped out had a lot to say in the hallway to media pic.twitter.com/8fv2ENWAtG
— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) March 5, 2019
After the announcement was made, Madison police released the investigative report detailing the department’s findings from interviews they conducted with 17 people.
The interviews are consistent on how the altercation started. The 11-year-old student was spraying air freshener in a classroom after her teacher had asked her not to.
What happened after that is where the interviews differ.
The report states that the girl’s teacher called Robert Mueller-Owens, a positive behavior support coach, and Tammy Gue, a special education teacher, to help diffuse the situation.
The girl told police that Mueller-Owens pushed her out of the classroom door after she was asked by her teacher to leave for causing disruption. The girl also said Mueller-Owens “punched her all over” and Gue tried to intervene. The girl said she was flipped over and slammed onto the floor, and both Gue and Mueller-Owens landed on top of her. The girl said she was escorted away holding some braids in her hand that she noticed fell out when she was flipped onto the ground.
Mueller-Owens told police that as soon as he arrived to assist, the girl was dropping F-bombs and said she has a problem communicating with teachers when things escalate. Mueller-Owens said he walked over to her to calmly ask her to go to his office to work things out but she kept dodging him by moving around the classroom. Mueller-Owens said the girl told him she was “going to swing on” him if he didn’t leave her alone. The girl eventually started walking toward the door, and as they both started to leave the classroom, the girl started to slam the door but Mueller-Owens stopped it with his foot. He said when he swung the door back open, the girl started throwing punches. He said Gue tried to intervene and he wrapped his arms around the girl to contain her, but as they walked toward the lockers, they “somehow pivoted and all three of them ended up falling on the floor.” He said, “the only time he touched her was to move her forward to prevent her from attacking him further.”
The police report indicated the video surveillance is difficult to see and doesn’t include what happened in the classroom, but states “it didn’t appear either one of them was punching each other” when they first exited the classroom and that when they were at the lockers “it looked like they all tripped and fell on top of each other.”
Gue told police that when Mueller-Owens had come to talk to the girl in the classroom, he stood there “with his hands folded in front of him” and she “just kept cursing him out.” Gue said Mueller-Owens nudged her and then said, “Go,” as he placed an open palm on her back and motioned her toward the door. Gue said they began playing tug-of-war with the door as the girl kept trying to shut it and Mueller-Owens tried to pry it open. Gue said Mueller-Owens pushed her out of the door and the girl punched him with a closed fist and broke his glasses. Gue said she tried to get in between them but before she could, Mueller-Owens grabbed both of them, pivoted and threw them on the ground.Gue said she never saw Mueller-Owens rip braids out of the girl’s hair but said “there was no justification for Mueller-Owens to push her out of the classroom.”
The police report goes on to describe several other interviews the police conducted, all of them contain slightly different accounts of what happened.
— Jessica Arp (@news3jessica) March 5, 2019
Ozanne said after reviewing the police report and speaking with the family members, there is no evidence to conclude that a crime was committed.
“It is my job to review all of the information and render an opinion based on how the law defines a crime,” Ozanne said. “I have done that and in this case, I do not believe a crime has been committed.”
Ozanne said he understands how this incident brings up controversies surrounding racism for some people, but said his decision was based on evidence alone.
“As a person of color growing up in this community, attending public and private schools, and now parenting two children of color in this community, I am personally aware the racial inequities that historically and currently paint a very different experience for persons of color living in Madison,” Ozanne said.
The girl’s mother, Mikiea Price, told News 3 Now in the hallway that she had a feeling authorities wouldn’t file criminal charges against Mueller-Owens from the beginning.
“It’s sad but it also teaches her a lesson that white people are privileged,” Price said. “She is learning that at an early age. In this situation, she did not follow directions. She should have followed directions. But she did not deserve to be beaten by an educator. I feel like he lost his cool.”
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