Newly-released bodycam footage from police shows a Chicago Public Schools principal saying that a 9-year-old boy left school on his own, despite surveillance video showing a security guard physically force him out as she looked on.
The bodycam video released by lawyers for the child's family Tuesday shows Fiske Elementary Principal Cynthia Miller speaking with officers and relatives of the boy who were called the school during the March 26 incident, which is now the subject of a lawsuit.
In the footage, Miller can be heard saying the fourth-grade child "bust through us and went out the door."
School surveillance video released in last month, however, showed a person identified by attorneys as a security guard pushed and shoved the boy toward a door. Then multiple staff members, including the security guard, are seen standing at the door and watching the child leave the building.
The boy's family claimed in their lawsuit the 9-year-old was thrown into the streets of one of Chicago’s “most violent neighborhoods with no coat in cold weather during the middle of the school day."
Family members said they were told the child “ran out” of the school after being violent.
“They said he was biting, scratching and kicking other kids – that didn’t happen,” Attorney Dan Herbert said. “He was thrown out into the cold with a polo shirt on for 30 minutes.”
Attorneys said the child was found by police “outside in the cold terrified and crying.” Chicago police could not immediately find record of the incident, the department said.
According to the suit, the child was being bullied at the school for months after transferring in from a school in Indiana. Family members said the child had no previous issues at his old school and “excelled in his academics.”
“He came from a safe environment where he was doing well and he ended up in a school in Englewood where he was immediately bullied by virtually all the students because he was an outsider and because he was different than them,” said Herbert. “He was not a hard kid, he was a sweet young boy.”
Attorneys said the family reported the bullying to school officials, who acknowledged they could not control many of the other children but said they were “annoyed with the 9-year-old for not ‘fitting in better.’” They also allege the school did not like that the child and his family were “complaining about the abuse.”
“These are the proper parties and these are the same people that ultimately failed this child,” Herbert said.
In a statement to NBC 5, Chicago Public Schools said "Every CPS student deserves access to a safe and welcoming school environment, and the district takes seriously all allegations of student harm."
"These allegations are deeply disturbing, and we are fully committed to holding accountable any adult whose actions could have endangered a student," the statement read.
"Anything could have happened to my son out there - anything," Yvonne Pinkston said.
Attorneys argued the school lied when it said the child was being “violent” and ran out of the school.
“The worst thing about this case is the cover-up,” Herbert said.
Miller has since retired from her position as principal at the school, writing in a letter to parents that leaving wasn't easy but was the right thing to do.