KINGSTREE, SC (WMBF) – Police are investigating after the assistant principal at Kingstree Senior High School was caught on camera Monday apparently grabbing and choking a student out to stop her from fighting another student.
The cell phone video, provided to The News of Kingstree, is referenced in a Kingstree Police Department report on the incident.
According to the report, on Tuesday, May 3, police met with the student, a senior at Kingstree Senior High School, and her mother, Yolanda Nesmith.
Nesmith told police that her daughter was in a fight with another juvenile, and during the fight, the suspect, identified in the report as Coach Mack Burgess, placed the student in a choke hold and held her so tightly she lost consciousness and went limp.
Burgess is listed as the assistant principal of Kingstree Senior High School in the school's online directory.
The student went to a nearby hospital in reference to the choking incident, the report stated.
Nesmith showed police video of the incident, and the officer and a judge agreed that an assault had taken place and there was enough probable cause for an arrest warrant, according to the police report.
The officer then went to the high school and advised Burgess of the situation. The judge told the officer not to issue an arrest warrant, but a courtesy summons. Currently, no one has been arrested.
Chief Eric Williams with Kingstree Police said the video is critical in this investigation.
"It can confirm or deny or give clarity to the situation that goes beyond hear say because a video can't talk, but it can show you the events and how it transpired," said Williams.
He added that it's up to those in authority to manage incidents within the schools.
"As administrators, if you have the authority or power to make a situation or environment a better place for students to obtain the knowledge they need to be successful, then we need to do that," Williams said. "We feel like the situation with the school system is something we really, really need to get a handle on because repetition lets you know there is a problem."
Nesmith said the video was very disturbing to see.
"Our kids may do wrong at time, but in a situation like this, I'm asking for all parents if your kids get in a situation, stand up for them," she said, "I want to seek justice. I want to see him arrested for this because this is my daughter and something could have happened worse than this."
Williamsburg County School District Director of Public Relations Bonnie King provided the following statement:
"We have several programs in place to assist our students in resolving conflicts without physical contact," King said. "Our rehabilitative behavioral health specialists, intervention specialists, mental health counselors (on-site), and guidance counselors work closely with students to address numerous issues throughout the year to include conflict resolution. Annually, counselors and administrators participate in Crisis Non-Violence Technique Training that provides them with the knowledge needed during physical altercations."