A Kentucky teacher, who got into a gruesome fight with a Black student in August last year after an altercation between the two escalated, has been fired, Insider reported. The video of the physical altercation between William Bennett and 16-year-old Jamir Strane went viral after it was circulated on social media.
In the video of the fight, Bennett, who taught science at Marion C. Moore School, was seen locking Jamir on the floor and also pulling his hair. He was relieved of his duties in December. A termination letter revealed Bennett was fired after an investigation conducted by Jefferson County Public Schools established the teacher “escalated the situation” and made “inappropriate comments” about Jamir.
The letter also stated that Jamir seemingly started the physical altercation after he punched the back of Bennett’s head. The teacher subsequently “caught” Jamir and placed his “whole body weight on top of him.”
In the videos of the fight that have since been shared on social media, some students witnessing the incident can be heard shouting at Bennett to “get the f**k off him” while others also try to break up the fight.
And though Jamir later walked away from Bennett after an adult managed to eventually separate the two, the teacher “proceeded to engage in the altercation”, the letter stated, per Insider. Bennett is said to have subsequently confronted Jamir down the hallway, had an exchange of words with the 16-year-old, and kicked him.
The letter also stated that Bennett admitted he told Jamir something pertaining to “being shot.” This “provoked” the 16-year-old. An unidentified student also who was cited in the report also said he overheard the fired teacher telling Jamir he was “just another Black boy that got shot.”
Following the August 2021 altercation, Jamir said his PTSD got triggered after Bennett used those words against him, Face2Face Africa reported at the time. The teen, who revealed he was hit in a drive-by shooting the year prior, said he attacked Bennett after the teacher told him he was “going to end up in the streets dead.”
A report from the Child Protective Services said Bennett’s utterances were “triggering” for Jamir as he “suffers ongoing emotional trauma as a previous gunshot victim.” But Bennett reportedly told district investigators Jamir had initially bragged about the shooting, so he did not believe what he said was derogatory, the report stated.
The fired teacher also made mention of the Kentucky state statute on self-defense and use of force. Per the law, an individual can use physical force as means of defense if they believe that is the best way to protect against the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by another person, Insider reported. Bennett also presented investigators with photos of his non-White relatives to “dispel any myths of being a racist portrayed in the media.”
But the principal of Marion C. Moore School, Traci Hunt, told district investigators that prior to his altercation with Jamir, Bennett got into a separate incident with a school counselor, and he also declined to undertake the school’s mandatory implicit bias training. Hunt said this caused her to have worries over his performance as a teacher. Besides that, Bennett was also said to have gotten into a physical incident with a student at his former place of employment.
Bennett can, however, appeal his termination. Jamir’s mother reportedly filed a lawsuit against Bennett and Jefferson County Public Schools on January 5.