KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - Based on witness interviews, medical reports and a video shot by bus supervisor Heidi Mullin, no charges will be brought against her for seemingly slamming a 7-year-old boy against the inside window of a school bus.
The ruling was handed down by Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Fink, and was based on the investigation from his division chief, Scott Brower.
Brower found Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools second-grader Hunter Dawson's "disruptive behavior was a chronic problem" on the bus, so much so it forced other adults to ride on the bus in order to keep the other students safe.
That day in early October, Heidi Mullin was the supervisor on the route. She recorded the ride on a handheld video.
The video shows, Brower said, the 7-year-old was "extremely disrespectful, disobedient, disruptive and dangerous," and that he threw a backpack at Mullin.
Mullin told 24 Hour News 8 Friday she wants parents in the district to know she did everything in her power to keep all of her children safe.
She agreed to read a statement and answer some questions if they were provided ahead of time. 24 Hour News 8 asked Mullin is she believes throwing that child against the school bus window was the right thing to do.
"Yes. I was just trying to protect myself. The child jumped on top of me. He put his sweatshirt or coat over my head, my mouth and my eyes, and I reacted instinctively to defend myself," said Mullin in a phone interview.
A portion of the 27-minute video shot by Mullin was released to 24 Hour News 8 by her attorney Mike Hills on Thursday. He said the original video posted online doesn't tell the whole story.
"In that little snippet of video that you saw, you only see the tail end," Hills said. "You don't see the child jumping on her head and wrapping her head in a sweatshirt and frankly putting his arms around her neck."
The new seconds-long segment of the video Mullin recorded shows the 7-year-old boy throwing his backpack at Mullin, but Hills says the child threatened Mullin, too.
"I think the kid should have been off the bus long before this escalated to this point," said Hills. "I think a major part of the problem in this case is the lack of support from the company that is in charge of busing."
Hunter's behavior was so disruptive that the bus driver had to pull over at least once, and an attempt was made to have police come to the bus. Another attempt was made to have a middle school staff member take charge of Hunter once the bus arrived at the school -- but the staff refused. Hills said Mullins called her immediate supervisor six times, desperate for help.
"So in order to try to make the bus safe for all the children, she decided to sit next to the child to maybe control the child and he attacked her," said Hills.
The video shows Mullin sat down next to Hunter and he was seen crying, Brower reported. Hunter then is seen taking his coat off and reaching toward Mullin. Hunter put his coat over her head and wrapped his arms around her neck or head.
Mullin then leaned toward Hunter and pushed him away. That is when he was videotaped by another student striking the bus window.
"I cannot find," Brower wrote, "that Mullins' act in pushing Hunter away was objectively unreasonable or so grossly excessive that it overcomes a claim of reasonable use of self-defense. The act of forcibly pushing Hunter Dawson away was not an 'unlawful' use of touching and does not support a charge of assault and battery."
The child's mother told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday nothing her son did warranted being slammed against the window. She said she doesn't understand the prosecutor's decision not to charge Mullin, which she called very disappointing.
24 Hour News 8 had hoped to get the rest of the video Mullins gave the prosecutor, but her attorney Mike Hill said Friday they are holding on to the video as Mullins considers legal action against her former employer, the Ohio-based private company that provides bus service for Galesburg-Augusta schools.
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