MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee Public Schools school safety officer is accused of child abuse after an incident at Lloyd Barbee Montessori School near Teutonia and W. Ruby Ave. on Feb. 1 -- caught on camera. MPS officials said he's been suspended and they've notified parents -- who said the allegations are alarming.
Charles Smith, 60, of Milwaukee faces one count of physical abuse of a child (intentional causation of bodily harm).
According to a criminal complaint, police responded to the school and spoke with the mother of the student, age 11, who indicated her son was "slammed to the ground by a school safety officer."
Surveillance video from the incident shows the child and Smith in a hallway, and shows the child being pushed multiple times. The video shows the child did not attempt to push Smith back or engage him during the incident. When the child tried to go into a classroom, Smith is seen "picking him up by his torso and slamming him onto the concrete floor." Smith then kicked the child's shoe at him. Eventually, the video shows a teacher enter the hallway from a classroom, and the child got up and ran downstairs to call his mom.
The child suffered swelling and bruising to his forehead and hip, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors say Smith initially denied harming the child, saying the child was "threatening him" and that the boy ended up on the floor because he "slipped." When he was confronted with the fact that there was surveillance video, and shown the video, the complaint says Smith told investigators "I did what I had to do. Can you present this case or whatever you do and just tell them the facts are unfounded? You can do that. You guys can do anything. Just tell them that for me and it'll be like I owe you one, you know what I'm saying?"
The complaint notes that Smith is 5'11" and weighs 320 pounds. The victim in this case is 5'2" and weighs 90 pounds.
"It's tragic to say the least. It's terrible to say the least. Of course I don't know what led up to the situation, but I can't see anything -- me being an able-bodied adult, that would cause me to do that much to a child," Ajamou Butler, parent said. "I do appreciate the school they notified us parents about it, and I am sure there will be some follow ups now that more developments have come up."
Smith made his initial appearance in court in this case on Feb. 7. Probable cause was found for further proceedings and a preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 23.
A $2,500 signature bond was set. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim or the victim's mother -- and no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18.