Beaten teen shouldn't have been on bus, grandmother says

Photo provided by MGN/ALA
Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 8:00am

The teen who suffered a broken arm in a beating on a school bus "should never have been put on that bus" after complaining about classmates trying to sell him drugs, his grandmother says.

The 13-year-old's July beating in Gulfport, Florida, led to three arrests and the retirement of the bus driver, who came in for criticism for not stepping in to stop the fight. Patricia Yankey, the beaten boy's grandmother, told CNN's "New Day" that her grandson was hit 29 times during the fight.

"It just breaks my heart," she said. "No one should have to put up with that, let alone a child."

Prosecutors said the bigger, older boys charged in the beating were seeking revenge after the 13-year-old told teachers that they tried to sell him drugs. Yankey said if administrators had called her to pick up her grandson after that, "This would not have happened."

"I have a big problem with that. I have a real big problem with that," she said. "I should have been called before something happened, not after something happened and been told that there was an incident."

Yankey said she found the boy sitting on the bus steps, "and his eyes welled up." He tried to say he was all right, but she insisted he be taken to a hospital. He was covered in bruises, and "by the grace of God, he wasn't dead," she said.

"He had to sit on that bus and listen to what they were going to do to him before they got off," she said. "They said they were going to kill him."

All three suspects are charged with aggravated battery; the teen police identified as the ringleader is also charged with robbery after investigators said he stole money from Yankey's grandson.

All three are scheduled to appear at a court hearing Thursday afternoon.

One of the boys' fathers offered an apology.

"I know I didn't raise him like that," said Julian McKnight. "I just feel like he made a bad decision and he just got caught up in a bad situation."

McKnight suggested peer pressure may have played a role, but said he hoped his son had learned a lesson.

"I really do apologize. I hope they understand that my son is not a criminal and he's never been that kind of person, never."

The bus driver, 64-year-old Charles Moody, retired after the fight.

He told CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" in early August that he was calling for help on his radio, as school policy required, but that jumping into the fight "would have been more dangerous for other students on the bus."

According to Pinellas County school policy, the bus driver isn't required to intervene, only to call dispatchers. He can step in, if he feels it's safe. Yankey said Moody should have done so, "but I try to understand where he was coming from."

"As a person, I would have been in the middle of it," she said. "I could not stand there and watch someone try to hurt somebody else. I would have been in the middle of it, no matter what policy said."

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