WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Police are investigating an alleged assault involving a 15-year-old student and an employee at Wyoming High School.
The alleged assault happened just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to Wyoming Department of Public Safety Capt. Kim Koster.
Rueben Riley, the dean of students and an assistant coach on the Wyoming High School football team, was arraigned Wednesday on misdemeanor assault. He was later released on a $100 bond. Riley is a former NFL and University of Michigan football player.
According to Wyoming Public Schools, the incident happened after Riley was sent to a classroom Tuesday afternoon to remove an unruly student. Riley and the student got into an altercation, resulting in the student being thrown to the ground.
The student and his mother told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday that the student, a sophomore, was being too loud and was asked to leave the classroom twice. He left on his own the first time. The second time, they said, the 15-year-old refused. They claimed he was then pushed down the hallway and then “slammed” into the gym floor.
“He threw me to the ground. Like, he slammed me; like, he threw me. Took me by my jacket and threw me,” the teen, who 24 Hour News 8 is not identifying by name, said.
The family provided medical records that show the teen sustained a minor head injury and bruising on his back.
“I don’t know how to think of teachers anymore,” the teen said. “I thought they were supposed to be supportive and like not hit you and stuff. He (Riley) is supposed to be a mentor to me.”
The incident was capture on camera, but 24 Hour News 8 could not obtain a copy of that video because it showed images of minors.
Laquan Thompson, the teen’s mother, said she was called to his school on Tuesday. She was told he assaulted a teacher, but said that when she looked at the tape, all she saw was her son being pushed and then thrown on the ground by Riley.
“Nothing but tears came down my eyes, my face,” Thompson said of watching the tape. “I was just so hurt. Who would ever think their child in that situation?”
The district says Riley was sent home after the incident. He was terminated on Wednesday. He was not at his house Thursday when 24 Hour News 8 went there seeking comment.
Another student who says she witnessed the fight blamed the student for the assault.
“I saw them in the hall and the student was trying to hit Mr. Riley. Mr. Riley was trying to bring his arms up trying to block it,” Madison Harris, a junior, said.
She said she didn’t’ see what happened after they went out of view.
She and others are upset that Riley has been fired because of the positive impact he had on the school. Since the story broke, students and fellow staff members emailed 24 Hour News 8 sharing kind words about Riley. The hashtag #BringBackRiley was started shortly after he was fired and 24 Hour News 8 was told people have been signing a petition to bring him back to the school.
However, after seeing the video, Thompson says Riley should not be working with kids.
“He’s not different than any other authority,” she said. “A policeman can’t just beat someone and feel, oh well, he has never done that before, and yes we all do make mistakes, but we have to learn from our mistakes, too.”
Thursday evening, Matt Lewis with Wyoming Public Schools released the following statement:
“On January 26 around 2:00 pm, Mr. Rueben Riley, a dean of students and assistant football coach at Wyoming High School, was forced to remove a student from class for being disruptive. The student refused to leave, necessitating Mr. Riley to physically guide him out. During that encounter, Mr. Riley became too physical with the student, who, at one point during the exchange was forced to the ground.
The district fully understands that there may be times that require a staff member to intervene physically in a situation–to break up a fight or to protect themselves personally. In this case the district determined that there was no immediate need for the amount of force used. Mr. Riley, who had been a model employee for the district and a champion for struggling students, was removed from his position yesterday and is no longer employed at Wyoming Public Schools.
It is vitally important for the district that its students and parents are ensured a safe, welcoming learning environment. When that environment is jeopardized for any reason, we will take swift action to make a correction. Our nearly 500 employees come to work every day committed to helping students succeed and feel at home here. This was an unfortunate incident that does not represent the care and dedication of our employees.”