PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – No charges will be filed against two teenagers whose fight with a school bus driver was caught on videotape and broadcast nationwide.
Prosecutor Stephen B. Russell (search) said in a statement Tuesday that the case against the boys could not be proven.
"After reviewing all of the evidence, including the entire 15-minute videotape of the incident, we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either of the juveniles violated a criminal law," Russell said. "While the actions of the juveniles were disrespectful, rude, and profane, their behavior needs to be addressed by their parents and the school district."
A fight broke out May 17 when driver Albert Taylor (search) told a 13-year-old boy to put his seat belt on and the boy's 15-year-old stepbrother cursed Taylor. Taylor then slapped the older boy and grabbed his throat, the video shows. The 15-year-old is seen pushing and punching the 66-year-old bus driver.
The stepbrothers were arrested on felony assault on a school official, punishable by up to five years in a juvenile justice center. Attorney Russell Kirshy said his clients are pleased that prosecutors declined to pursue the case.
"These boys are the victims and they have been from day one," Kirshy said. "The fact they got arrested was a mistake. That's clear."
The boys could still face disciplinary action from the school district. Taylor remains charged with battery, a misdemeanor.
Lawyer Mark De Sisto said Taylor was acting in self-defense and that should be covered by state law allowing personnel to use "hands-on" discipline in a matter of safety for other students, unless it is excessive force or unusually cruel punishment.
If convicted of battery, Taylor could face up to a year in prison. He is on paid suspension from the Charlotte County School District.