Surveillance video has exposed an atmosphere of violence against students at Pittsburgh’s Woodland Hills High School, the students' attorney claims
Two black Pittsburgh teens filed a lawsuit this week against their school district and local police, alleging use of excessive force and a pattern of abuse against black students.
Surveillance video released this week showed Woodland Hills High School resources officer Steve Shaulis put 14-year-old Ahmad Williams in a headlock after an altercation. Williams was also violently held down by the same officer, and the school principal Kevin Murray, and then tasered.
“If a picture speaks a thousand words, and that picture does, then a video has to speak a million,” said the students’ lawyer, Todd Hollis. Hollis also told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that two more students have come forward with their own claims of violence from school administrators.
“This has gone uncovered; nobody feels that they’ve done anything wrong because they’ve been doing it so long,” Hollis told The Washington Post. “They’re assaulting children. They’re violating children’s civil and constitutional rights.”
Williams was later charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but charges were dropped after the video was shown in court.
Another video shows the same officer punch Que-Chawn Wade, 14, during an altercation. Wade had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital, where his tooth was sewn back into place.
Hollis also represented another Woodland Hills student earlier this year after the student recorded the principal, threatening to “knock his … teeth” down the student's throat.
Woodland Hills Superintendent Alan Johnson said the school district conducted an internal investigation of one of the incidents, but had found none of the administrators at fault. School officials say these are isolated incidents over several years that don't show systematic targeting.
Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors are aware of the surveillance videos and are investigating the incidents. Shaulis, who is not a school district employee, has been removed from working at the school due to the investigation.