In a newly filed lawsuit, parents of a teen in Kentucky claim a teacher told their son “he was just another Black boy who got shot” before getting into an altercation with the student that involved kicking him, holding him down on the ground and even pulling his hair.
Insider’s Gwen Aviles reported that “William Bennett, a former science teacher at Marion C. Moore School in Louisville, was fired last month after a Jefferson County Public Schools investigation found that Bennett ‘escalated the situation’ and made ‘inappropriate comments’ about the student, per a termination letter.”
According to Aviles, the August 2021 incident began when 16-year-old Jamir Strane was talking to Bennett about a drive-by shooting Strane had been involved in. Bennett downplayed the situation, allegedly telling Strane he was “going to end up in the streets dead” and become “just another Black boy that got shot.”
Provoked by his teacher’s comments, Strane punched Bennett in the back of the head. After that, Aviles said Bennett “caught the student” and put his “whole body weight on top of him.”
In cell phone recordings of the incident, other students came to Strane’s aid and tried to get their teacher off him.
“Though another adult emerged to deescalate the situation, resulting in Strane walking away from Bennett, Bennett ‘proceeded to engage in the altercation,’” Aviles reported. “Bennett reportedly followed Strane down the hallway, had a verbal exchange with the student and kicked him.”
In a report of the incident from Child Protective Services, investigators said Bennett’s comments were “triggering” to Strane. They also added that the teen still “suffers ongoing emotional trauma as a previous gunshot victim.”
“The report also states that Bennett referenced the Kentucky state statute on self-defense and force, which allows a person to use physical force to defend themselves if they believe it is necessary to protect against the use of imminent force by another person,” Aviles reported. “Bennett also showed investigators pictures of his non-white family members to ‘dispel any myths of being a racist portrayed in the media.’”
Following the incident, Bennett was terminated from his position at the school. A spokesperson for Marion C. Moore School also confirmed that the former teacher had “refused to complete the school’s mandatory implicit bias training” and “was involved with a previous incident with a school counselor, leading her to have concerns about his performance as a teacher before the altercation.”
This most recent incident is not the first time Bennett has gotten into an altercation with a student. An additional district investigation revealed he’d had at least one other physical run-in with one of his students in the past.
While Bennett is free to appeal his termination, the new lawsuit from Jamir Strane’s mother, Erica Strane, may complicate that process. In that lawsuit, her lawyer Aubrey Williams alleges that the incident was even more severe than first reported, with Bennett reportedly slamming, pummeling and restraining Jamir while “yelling obscenities, profanity and racial slurs at him.”
A court date for the new lawsuit has yet to be set.