A white Georgia school bus driver has been charged after a cellphone video emerged of him pushing two black students.
James O’Neil, a bus driver for the Morgan Country Charter School System, was arrested Friday on two counts of simple battery over the alleged school bus confrontation, Morgan County Citizen reported.
Footage captured of the incident on Sept. 9 showed O’Neil telling a young boy and his sister to go to the back of the bus. When the children refuse to comply, he shoves them.
The driver was fired from the school district after the footage went viral online, the outlet reported.
The children’s mother, Nequania Carter, told FOX5 that her son and daughter, ages 6 and 10, were traumatized by the incident.
“My son is terrified, he was scared, he called for his older sister as you could hear he was crying … he was horrified … you’re supposed to be protecting him,” she said.
“I don’t know why he told them sit in the back of the bus because the high schoolers sit back there and normally the primaries sit right behind the bus driver.”
She said the incident was not the first time her family had complained about O’Neil and that she believed his actions were racially motivated.
“I’ve never put my hands on a child and I used to drive school buses too,” she said.
“My kids don’t want to go back to school … they don’t want to get back on the school bus.”
After O’Neil’s arrest, Carter and her husband, Blake, released a statement thanking their community for support in the week since the upsetting confrontation.
“We are very relieved that charges were filed and that no other parents have to worry about the safety of their children when it comes to Mr. O’Neil,” they wrote.
“We really appreciate the NAACP for all their support and assistance and also the support from the community.”
The Carters also confirmed that they had permanently removed their children from the Morgan County school system, stating that they were unhappy with the district’s initial response to the incident.
“We feel like [O’Neil] was terminated because the story got more coverage than the Morgan County Charter School System would have liked,” Nequania Carter said.
“It was rumored that they were just going to send him to be retrained.”
The family also alleged that Alicia Lord, the school system’s transportation manager, ignored multiple families’ previous complaints about O’Neil.
Meanwhile, Morgan County Chief Deputy Keith Howard told the Morgan County Citizen that police could not determine whether the confrontation was racist in nature based on the three video and audio recordings they reviewed.
“Investigators took additional time to investigate all the facts to include consulting with prosecutors in the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit,” he said.
“Investigators could not establish a nexus that the incident was racially motivated.”
O’Neil spent a day in custody before being released on bond. He is awaiting a court date, at which time he will enter his plea.
The Carter family and the Morgan County Charter School System did not respond to requests for comment. O’Neil could not be immediately reached.