The mother of a student accused of kicking a teacher in the face during a fight at East Hall High School says her son didn’t do it.
Jhonny David Mendez, 18, was charged with felony battery and affray last week after a fight on March 8 with another student. He was arrested two days later and released on a $3,500 bond later that day.
Mendez is accused of kicking East Hall teacher Heather Hawkins in the face while she was trying to break up the fight.
Hall County Schools spokesman Stan Lewis said last week that Mendez was on his back and accidentally kicked Hawkins in the face when he tried to kick the other student off him.
“It was just a scramble,” Lewis said. “He was trying to kick the other kid.”
Fight at East Hall High School
Who is who?
But Mendez’s mother, Mireyna, said her son didn’t start the fight and that it was the other student who kicked Hawkins.
“The other student followed my son into his classroom and attacked him by surprise. My son did not kick the teacher as reported,” she said in a statement. “He was not the student on his back in the video. … David simply isn't the person they say kicked the teacher. He has been charged with a felony. We believe this is a mistake and will do our best to prove it.”
When asked to identify who is who in the video, Lewis said, “Based on the school’s investigation, it was Mendez who kicked the teacher in the face.” He directed further questions to the Sheriff’s Office, citing the ongoing investigation.
“The language in the warrant does not indicate what position Mendez was in during the altercation,” The Sheriff’s Office said over email when asked whether Mendez was the student on top or bottom.
According to the arrest warrant, Mendez kicked Hawkins “while she was trying to stop a fight due to Mrs. Hawkins grabbing the Defendants legs while he tried to kick off the other individual that was fighting him.”
Why were they fighting?
East Hall High Principal Jeff Cooper said the students were fighting over a female student, but he said he didn't know why.
“We had a young man follow another young man to a classroom and punched him and then pursued into a fight,” he said, though he declined to say who threw that first punch.
“I don’t feel comfortable releasing names,” he said. “I think the police report should have that information.”
The Times filed for open records and obtained the arrest report and incident report from the Sheriff’s Office, but neither provided a detailed narrative of what happened.
Cooper said Hawkins had a headache after being kicked but was able to finish the school day.
Both students charged
School district officials initially suggested that only Mendez was charged in the fight.
But Cooper said the other student was also charged. He declined to provide the student’s name because he’s a juvenile, but said he was charged with misdemeanor battery and affray.
“There is no information in our system at this time that identifies the juvenile student or any charges against that student,” the Sheriff’s Office said when asked for information about the juvenile student’s charges.
Why were the students charged?
Cooper said after a fight last September, which didn’t involve either of these two students, he put out a message telling students that anyone who gets in a fight will have charges brought against them.
“From that day forward,” he said, “we've charged everyone involved in regards to a physical altercation.”
Mendez’s attorney, public defender Brian Dille, said he does not know enough about the case yet and declined to comment.