A California music teacher who was filmed punching a student was charged Friday with a misdemeanor, announced the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Video footage shows a 14-year-old student verbally harassing and throwing a basketball ball at Marston Riley, 64, in his classroom at Maywood Academy High School.
The video then shows Riley trading punches with the teen before a woman steps in and attempts to break up the fight.
While the 64-year-old educator was criticized for his response, other students immediately came to Riley’s defense, insisting that he was provoked by their classmate, KTLA reports.
“There were students there who were already taking out their phones to record the incident,” one student told KTLA. “I don’t think it’s completely fair that they’re just putting the blame all on (Riley) when I personally know that he’s a good guy.”
Another student said, “I had this teacher before and I had no problem with him. He was a really nice teacher, I always respected him. He always had a really good relationship with every student.”
However, in a statement, the Los Angeles Unified School District said the following: “We take this matter very seriously and do not condone violence or intolerance of any kind. Los Angeles Unified is cooperating with law enforcement in investigating this incident.”
Following the altercation, the student received treatment for “moderate injuries” at a nearby hospital, prosecutors said.
Riley faces a possible maximum sentence of one year in county jail if convicted, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office. He is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 4 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Following Riley’s arrest, a GoFundMe campaign was created and has since raised over $187,000.
“We all may have mixed feelings about what happened. But please do know that this is not the first time that Mr. Riley is attacked; physically or verbally,” the page read. “He is a great person and a great teacher.”