ANSON COUNTY, N.C. — Videos circulating on social media appear to show the principal at Anson High School putting a student in a headlock chokehold, and now the Wadesboro Police Department tells Channel 9 it’s looking into the incident.
The fight happened Tuesday and started between two students, one of the students told Channel 9.
You can see in the video that punches are thrown between the two students, and a crowd of students surrounds them, yelling. During the fight, AHS Principal Chris Stinson is seen getting in the middle of the two students to try and break up the fight. But then Stinson places one student in a headlock and keeps him in a chokehold while pulling him across the room.
“That’s when he had me in the chokehold until I couldn’t talk, and I couldn’t breathe oxygen, my oxygen feels like it was going out, and everything started going black on me,” said Dequarius Ratliff, the student who was placed in the hold. “He was moving his grip, he was getting tighter. That’s when my cousin ran up and yelled, ‘Let him go.’”
Ratliff, a 10th grader at the school, said he was taken to the Wadesboro Police Station. He then went to the hospital after his grandmother picked him up. He admits that he was in the wrong by fighting, but he and his family say the principal was also in the wrong.
“You don’t do a student like that, you don’t do no student like that,” said Pauline Ratliff, Dequarius’ grandmother.
Pauline says her grandson had a slipped disk in his neck as a result of the chokehold.
But the family also says there wasn’t enough communication from the school, with one family member saying she had to find out about the incident from a friend who saw the video online.
“She was like, ‘Have you been on Facebook?’ [I said,] ‘No, ma’am,’ and she said, ‘Well, Principal Stinson just choked your nephew plum out,’” said Doris Willoughby, Dequarius’ aunt.
Pauline and Doris told Channel 9 they went to the school on Wednesday to try and get answers but were unsuccessful.
We reached out to Anson County Schools for information Wednesday morning. The district sent the following statement just after 6 p.m.
“On January 31, 2023, two students were involved in an altercation at Anson High School. Principal Chris Stinson, together with a school resource officer, had met with the two students shortly before the altercation to try to defuse a situation between them. Both students had indicated that they understood there was to be no altercation and agreed there would not be one. Not long afterwards, one of the students attacked the other in the midst of a large crowd of students gathering for release at the end of the school day and for a ballgame. Principal Chris Stinson was very near to the students and immediately tried to break up the fight. He used what appeared to be reasonable force to try to separate the two students and was struck in the jaw while doing so. Principal Stinson pulled the student who initiated the fight away from the other student while that student was still resisting.
Mr. Stinson appeared to be under control throughout the situation and is specifically authorized by law to use reasonable force to control behavior or to remove a person from the scene in situations when it is necessary to quell a disturbance threatening injury to others, for self-defense, for the protection of people or property, or to maintain order on educational property. School employees are expected to act to intervene in altercations between students and to act appropriately when doing so.
In videos of the incident, Mr. Stinson clearly has his arm across the student’s shoulders, from behind, and under his chin, but he denies choking the student. The student did not complain of being choked during the incident, after the incident, or at any time when he was detained by school resource officers following the incident.
The school investigation is ongoing, as is the investigation by the Wadesboro Police Department. Mr. Stinson is a highly respected and valued school administrator who acted quickly to break up a fight and to prevent further injury to a student who had been attacked.”
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