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Outrage after Madison East High student faces tentative charges from lunchroom fight

(NBC15)
Published: Mar. 27, 2017 at 5:07 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) --- Some community members are calling for the district attorney to drop all charges against a Madison East High student following a fight in the lunchroom.

Madison East Junior, 17-year-old Aireyanna Connors was arrested on a tentative charge of physical abuse to a child after a fight broke out back March 16.

Police say the fight involved multiple students. Eight officers and school security staff were brought in to help. Four students were arrested. Two went to the Juvenile Reception Center, and two others went to Dane County Jail, including Connors.

Members from the Focused Interruption Coalition and Concerned Black Mothers say the charge is excessive and unnecessary.

In addition to calling for charges to be dropped, they also say all police officers, or ERO's, should be removed from schools.

"We're calling on those officials to have a little humility, to have humanity, not allow our children, our youth to be constantly victimized by our system that is definitely oppressive, definitely biased," said Caliph Muab'El with Focused Interruption Coalition.

"Was this a fight of a nature that we should have been calling police or someone should have been arrested? From what I know now at this point, the answer is no," said James Howard, Madison School Board President.

While Howard maintains that EROs should remain in schools, he says further training needs to continue.

"We're doing the right things, we're on the right path. We have to keep EROs in our school but make sure they're trained and understand what type of incidents they should be involved in," said Howard.

Copyright 2017: WMTV

Full Statement from Madison Police Chief Mike Koval on Connors' arrest:

Relative to a fight call that broke out at East High School’s cafeteria during the lunch hour on Thursday (March 16), some questions have been asked as to the charge of “Physical Abuse to a Child.”  It should be noted that under Wisconsin law, when someone is age 17 or younger and is the “victim” of a crime, the State considers the victim to have the status of a “child.”  Conversely, when someone is age l7 (or older) and has been identified as the “offender” in a crime, the State automatically “waives” this individual into the adult criminal justice system. . .there is no “juvenile” court for someone who commits a crime and is 17 (or older).

Someone who intentionally causes bodily harm to a “child” are the basic elements in the charge of “physical abuse to a child,” which is a felony.  In Wisconsin, an arrested person has to option of posting bail for a misdemeanor charge and can then be released.  However, someone charged with a felony has no cash bond option immediately available; the person charged with a felony remains in custody until going to court at the next available time at which time conditions for release are determined by the court.

 In the immediate case involving the East High incident, there were injuries claimed by a 16-year-old that were allegedly caused by a 17-year-old.  Based on the reported injuries presented and complained of by the 16-year-old, this caused “bodily harm” to a “child” and there was probable cause to charge the l7-year-old with physical abuse to a child.

 Just as there are many factors that go into a charging decision by the police (i.e., the need to hold individuals accountable for their behavior(s), the seriousness of the injuries, the potentiality for continued and/or escalated violence, etc.), the District Attorney’s Office has wide prosecutorial discretion to add/amend/dismiss/or divert the charges that have been referred for his consideration.

 

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