EAST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Maywood high school music teacher who was caught on widely circulated cell phone video allegedly punching a 14-year-old student during a classroom argument has been charged with a misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a child.
Marston Riley, 64, of Anaheim, is accused of hitting the boy during the Nov. 2 altercation at Maywood Academy High School. The altercation occurred in front of a classroom filled with students.
Witnesses said Riley had asked the student to leave class because he wasn’t wearing a proper uniform. The student allegedly responded by yelling racial epithets at Riley, who is black, including the N-word.
“That’s really disrespectful. It’s a teacher, so that’s not OK, you know,” Maywood resident Jenni Chavez said. “But however, it’s still not OK for the teacher to have punched a student either.”
Cell phone video taken by another student shows the teacher appearing to strike the boy in the face, then continuing to hit him as they grappled, even after a school security guard came into the classroom and tried to intervene.
Riley was arrested but was released the following day. The cell phone video has prompted a wave of support for Riley. Some backers — while not fully condoning Riley’s actions — have suggested the student provoked the teacher through the use of vile epithets.
“He really respects his students and he cares about his students a lot,” one student told CBS2/KCAL9’s Dave Lopez.
As of Saturday morning, a GoFundMe page set up on Riley’s behalf has raised more than $187,000.
“We all may have mixed feelings about what happened,” according to the GoFundMe page. “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.”
Riley appeared last month in a 17-second video attached to the fundraiser page.
The student suffered moderate injuries and was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released, according to the sheriff’s department.
Riley, who has been placed on leave by the Los Angeles Unified School District, is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 4 at the East Los Angeles courthouse, and could face up to a year in jail if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.