School guard caught on camera punching girl cleared of criminal charge
Incident occurred during basketball game in Hollywood
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A school security guard who was arrested last year after being caught on cellphone video punching a girl during a youth basketball game has been cleared of wrongdoing, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
According to the news outlet, Assistant State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy wrote in a closeout memo that because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, “A defendant is justified in using non-deadly force against a person, and has no duty to retreat, if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend another.”
Local 10 News has requested a copy of the closeout memo.
According to authorities, the girl who was punched by Bennett Wyche admitted that she was punching his daughter when he struck her, knocking her to the floor.
"Mr. Wyche is legally permitted to defend his daughter," Murphy wrote.
Wyche was arrested last September by Hollywood police after the brawl during a girls' basketball game at the Washington Park Community Center.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Wyche was employee of the year five times during his 21-year career with the district -- three times at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School and once each at North Fork Elementary in Fort Lauderdale and Stranahan High School in Fort Lauderdale.
But documents obtained by Local 10 News detail a 2017 incident that got him suspended from his job as a security specialist at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School.
According to an investigative complaint by the Broward County school district, a student became upset when he was told he couldn't go to a school dance because of his behavioral issues. At some point, Wyche grabbed the student and slammed him against a wall, the complaint alleges.
Witnesses said that because the student was yelling and causing a scene, Wyche charged at him a second time.
The assistant vice principal, who was among the witnesses, told investigators that Wyche is well respected and goes above and beyond but “stated Mr. Wyche’s actions were inappropriate and that he should not have allowed the student’s comments to anger him,” the complaint stated.
Another witness claimed Wyche was good at his job "but sometimes is a bit aggressive and curses at the students."
Wyche ultimately was given a one-day suspension for that incident.
Wyche remains employed by the Broward County Public School District, but had been reassigned away from students during the ongoing investigation into the basketball game brawl.
It’s unclear whether he will return to any of the district’s campuses.
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