HEATH – The mother of a former 15-year-old Heath High School student, who had a gun pointed at him by at a teen party in Heath last December and then was physically assaulted by the same bully the next week in the school hallway, claims her son was also bullied and roughed up by a Heath prosecutor and police when her son was required to appear at the Heath municipal court in February to face charges for supposedly fighting in school.
Three months later the boy was unanimously found “Not Guilty” of fighting by a Heath jury after they viewed a video of the incident, as taken by another student with his cell phone camera. She said her son is now attending a neighboring school district, doing well and earning As and Bs.
The mother, Melshell Morris, told The Rockwall News that she was in the room with her son, and they were trying to explain his innocence. But when she was asked to leave by prosecutor Paul Liston so he could speak to her son alone and she objected without her or an attorney in the room, she said that’s when the brutality began.
She explained that when her son simply started to stand up to leave the room with her, Heath police officers Brian Burton and Michael Weems threw him down on the floor, cuffed his hands behind his back and dug their knees into his back. She said she took the above photos to prove what the Heath officers did.
A local criminal attorney, who asked his name not yet be used, said the prosecutor was wrong and it was inappropriate for him to attempt to interview the boy without a parent or attorney present, since the boy was underage.
The mother added the officers then took him out of the room, arrested him without reading him his rights, placed him in a police car and left – without telling her what the charges were or where they were taking her son.
She said she and her husband could not sleep all night and were not told until the next day that the officers had taken him to the juvenile detention facility in Greenville and had charged him with “Resisting Arrest” and “Disturbing the Judicial Process,” which she said he absolutely did not do.
She added that her son was also kept handcuffed behind his back for about eight hours, which she feels is deplorable and was totally unnecessary.
“All he did was start to stand up,” she explained. “He was scared and didn’t want me to leave him. He wanted to stay with me. Before we knew it, the officers forcefully threw him to the floor and cuffed him for no good reason. He’s no criminal. He was just a boy who had been bullied at school.”
Morris added that her son should never have had to appear in court in the first place and only had to because Heath principal Tom Maglisceau suspended him for three days without even looking at the video which clearly proved her son’s innocence.
She believes that Rockwall ISD’s anti-bullying policy is seriously flawed because, from what she’s heard from other families, the school district seems to punish bullying victims the same as it does the bullies. She said the district also refuses to tell victims and their families if the bully will be back at school or if he was punished.
The mother added that, to her knowledge, no investigation of her son’s incident has ever taken place by the school because they have never received the report they requested or even a response. In addition, no one greeted her son upon his return to school to ensure there was no further fighting, plus no counseling was ever offered as the policy reads it should be.
She said she was also shocked that assistant principal Tracey Black and teachers Laura Beene and Kimberly Blain did not tell the truth about the bullying incident at the school while on the witness stand. They claimed her son fought back.
“Fortunately the bully did tell the truth and testified that my son never fought back,” Morris said. “He even apologized to my son and our family for all the trouble he caused us. We accepted his apology and wished him well once we learned that his mother abandoned him and his family when he was young. Life’s been very hard for him.”
Morris said although her son was found Not Guilty by the jury for the original charge, the prosecutor would not drop the additional charges of Resisting Arrest and Disturbing the Judicial Process. He must appear to face those Oct. 29 in the Rockwall County Court at Law.
She said this whole experience has left her son and family with distrust for the police and legal system. It’s also been very costly.
The Heath Department of Public Safety, prosecutor Paul Liston and RISD have been contacted for comments which will be published in a separate article. RISD has thus far sent information to clarify their bullying policy.