Michigan middle school coach allegedly choked student with shirt in incident caught on surveillance video

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(DETROIT) -- A now-former employee at a Michigan middle school faces charges after allegedly choking a 14-year-old student with a shirt, in an incident captured on surveillance footage.

The alleged "assault" occurred on June 4 at Ypsilanti Middle School and involved the teen's "trusted coach," according to the family's attorney, Jordan Vahdat. The employee is no longer working at Ypsilanti Community Schools "effective immediately," the school district said Monday.

Surveillance footage of the incident shows the employee approaching the student from behind as the teen, identified by his family as Michael Moon, walks down a hallway. The employee then appears to raise a shirt over the head of the teen, who then struggles to get loose before breaking free and walking away, the footage shows. The incident captured in the video lasted fewer than 20 seconds.

The Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that they have authorized two charges against the defendant in the case -- assault with intent to do great bodily harm by strangulation, as well as assault and battery, a misdemeanor. No additional details in the case were released.

The employee is no longer working at the school district and is not allowed to be on school property or attend school events, according to Ypsilanti Community Schools Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross.

"Our district is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment for all students," Zachery-Ross said in a statement. "The actions of the employee are absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our district."

"We will continue to implement and enforce policies that protect our students and ensure their well-being," her statement continued.

In a letter sent to the school community on Monday, Zachery-Ross said the school district "immediately" contacted social services authorities and began cooperating with local law enforcement upon learning about the incident.

"We understand the concern this incident may cause within our community," the letter stated. "Please know that we are committed to continuing to fully cooperate with the involved authorities."

Michael's parents said they reported the incident to police, who subsequently showed them the surveillance footage of the incident. His mother, Yolanda Ellis, told Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ she was "horrified" by what she saw and the incident made her "lose trust in that coach, because he was someone that Michael looked up to."

The incident allegedly occurred after the coach -- who also served as a hall monitor -- ordered Michael to do pushups because he was horsing around in the hallway, but the teen declined because he had hurt his hand, his parents told WXYZ.

His parents had been calling for charges in the incident.

"I need this man to pay for what he did to my son, and that means being fired, losing his job and sitting in jail," Michael's father, Steve Moon, told WXYZ. "I need him to know that what he did was wrong."

Efforts to reach the former employee for comment were unsuccessful.

The Ypsilanti Police Department referred ABC News to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office when contacted for comment.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 1:35PM by Meredith Deliso, ABC News Permalink