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Lawyer of Phoenix substitute teacher says student committed ‘criminal act’

PHOENIX — The video of a Phoenix substitute teacher pushing an eighth grade student to the ground has lead to a police investigation.

Representing the teacher, Brett Russell, lawyer Marcie Kratter said she is OK with her client’s actions.

“I am because he was using self defense after he was attacked and a crime was committed against him,” said Kratter on Mac & Gaydos on KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

Kratter explained what happened prior to what is seen on video.

“The student entered the classroom in a disruptive manner, shouting off racial slurs, calling other students profane names and he had grabbed one of the students notebooks and started running around the classroom,” said Kratter. “And to my understanding, after that happened, the teacher attempted to get control of his classroom by asking the student to sit down.”

At this point the incident is still not being caught on video.

“(He) began to chest bump the teacher, calling him the n-word and telling him, ‘What are you gonna do about it, old man?,'” said Kratter. “And then he punches the teacher in the shoulder, at which at this point the teacher has done everything he can to get control of his classroom and he is now being assaulted by the student.”

According to Kratter’s account, the student assaulted Russell first.

“When, in fact, the child assaults a teacher and there’s a statute in Arizona, which makes it a classified felony for a student to hit a teacher, so we now have a student committing a criminal act in the classroom — a felony,” said Kratter.

It wasn’t until the situation started getting physical that the students in the classroom took out their phones and started to record, she said.

“The teacher is not just supposed to sit there and take it. He doesn’t have to. Nobody deserves to be treated that way,” said Kratter.

Since the release of this video, Kratter’s law office has received emails in support of Russell.

“The teacher is a well-loved substitute. He wasn’t just there for a day; he’s been there since November, in that same classroom,” said Kratter.

The school is leading its own investigation concerning the future of Russell and the student.

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