Online donations are streaming in for a Maywood high school music teacher who was arrested after a video went viral showing him punching a 14-year-old student in the face after the boy used a racial epithet and threw a basketball at him.
The fight Friday in the Maywood Academy High School classroom led to the arrest of teacher Marston Riley, 64, who is black, on suspicion of child abuse. Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau are investigating.
Cecilia Diaz Jimenez, who says she works for the Los Angeles Unified School District and previously worked at Maywood Academy, started a GoFundMe page for Riley over the weekend. As of Monday night, more than 2,400 people had donated more than $61,000.
“Be mindful that the school district is looking at dismissing him and I would not doubt if the student’s parents are looking into pressing criminal charges,” Jimenez wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I am sure Mr. Riley will need money to pay any fines, fees and lawyers.”
On social media, scores of people defended Riley, saying that he was pushed to the brink and that the student was out of line for using a racial slur. However, some parents have expressed outrage over the incident.
“We all may have mixed feelings about what happened,” Jimenez wrote. “But please do know that this is not the first time that Mr. Riley is attacked; physically or verbally. He is a great person and a great teacher.”
Students told KTLA that the confrontation began after Riley asked the boy to leave the classroom because he wasn’t wearing a proper uniform.
Cellphone video from the classroom shows the boy standing next to his teacher, swearing at him and repeatedly using racial slurs.
“What’s up, bro?” the student says as he stands close and throws the basketball at Riley.
“Why you wisecracking, my … ?” he asks.
Riley walks away as the student continues to insult him, then walks back to the front of the classroom where the student is standing. He calmly tells the student several times to leave, then suddenly starts punching.
The two trade punches as other students scramble around them, some shrieking. Riley hits the student numerous times, and a woman in a yellow safety vest tries to intervene.
The boy was pulled from the room by campus staff.
The student was taken to a hospital where he was treated for moderate injuries and released, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Riley was arrested and booked at the East Los Angeles sheriff’s station. He was released Saturday morning after posting $50,000 bail, according to Sheriff’s Department inmate records. He is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 30, authorities said.
Riley could not be reached for comment after the incident, but he did record a video thanking people for donating to the GoFundMe account.
In a statement, officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District said they were “extremely disturbed” by reports of the fight.
“We take this matter very seriously and do not condone violence or intolerance of any kind,” the statement read. “Los Angeles Unified is cooperating with law enforcement in investigating this incident.”
Several parents gathered outside the school Friday night to express their anger over the incident, NBC Los Angeles reported.
“Just the fact that he’s hitting a child — it’s not right,” one woman told the station.