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Mother files complaint after her son’s arrest at Logan High School

Mother files complaint after her son’s arrest at Logan High School

Erica Boatwright holds signs in support of her son, Romeo Johnson, who was arrested on a charge of obstruction at Logan High School. Boatwright said she plans to hold a rally to bring attention to her son’s arrest.

Erica Boatwright recently filed a complaint against Brian Atkinson, the assistant principal of Logan High School, and Officer Everett Maynard, of the Logan Police Department.

She filed the complaint with the town police on May 18, one day after Maynard allegedly tackled her son, Romeo Johnson, 16, after he refused to go to the principal’s office.

Videos of the arrest surfaced on the internet shortly after, sparking outrage among many viewers. A video uploaded to Facebook was viewed 30,000 times and shared by more than 500 people as of Tuesday.

The 40-second video begins with Maynard and Johnson already on the ground. A brief moment shows Maynard with his fist tucked under Johnson’s neck while students scream in protest.

Boatwright later recalled her son’s initial reaction: “He just said, ‘Momma, I don’t know why they did that to me.’ ”

In documents provided by Boatwright to the Gazette-Mail, school officials said the altercation started with a hooded jacket.

It began when a woman called the assistant principal to move Johnson, who sat in an upstairs hallway, according to an internal statement Atkinson provided to school officials.

Johnson had thrown something at a trashcan and missed. He picked the trash up, and that’s when the woman noticed a hood on Johnson’s head, according to the statement.

Atkinson, his statement says, told Johnson the hoodie caused an issue and that he would need to leave the hallway. When Johnson refused, Atkinson called for backup.

Maynard then joined the assistant principal as Johnson agreed to walk with the men. As they neared Principal Kelly Stanley’s office, Johnson stopped in the stairwell and tried to walk away.

“Officer Maynard put his arm out and told Romeo to do what Mr. Atkinson said and pushed him back towards the stairs,” according to the statement.

Johnson, the document states, put his hands in the air and told Maynard not to “f---ing touch me.”

He agreed to follow the men once more, but the report says Johnson again tried to walk away from the office.

“I told him, ‘Don’t make things worse, Romeo,’ ” Atkinson said in his statement.

Soon after, Maynard “took Mr. Johnson to the floor,” according to a criminal complaint the officer filed.

Although Maynard’s complaint said he escorted Johnson to the office without further incident, Atkinson’s statement said the confrontation continued.

When Johnson chose not to sit down, “Officer Maynard swept his legs and put him in a chair.”

Police charged Johnson with obstruction and Atkinson suspended him for nine days, citing insubordination and the use of profane language.

The police department did not return several calls from the Gazette-Mail, and Atkinson would not comment for this report.

Johnson’s mother cooked chicken while her son was at school, unaware of his arrest. Boatwright said she was met with silence when she answered a call from her son’s phone.

She flipped a piece of chicken when another call arrived. This time, it was her niece — she said an officer threw Johnson, her cousin and a fellow classmate, to the ground.

As part of her complaint to the police department, Boatwright said she rushed to the school but was not let inside.

Boatwright said she looked through a pane of glass outside the office, where she saw Maynard, Atkinson and another officer, Robert Adkins, who eventually took Johnson away from the school.

“I said, ‘Give me my son. I need to see what y’all done to my baby.’ They refused to let me in there, refused to let me see my son. It was just something awful,” Boatwright said.

Johnson’s mother said she first saw her son as police walked him to a patrol car. They were again separated by glass, Boatwright said, as she watched him through a door at the courthouse.

The Logan County Circuit Court released Johnson on his own recognizance the same day. According to the terms and conditions of his bail, Johnson will owe $510 if he goes to school property or comments on social media.

Johnson, his mother said, returned home angry and confused before physical pain set in.

In her complaint, Boatwright said a severe bout of pain sent her son to the emergency room shortly before midnight.

A doctor diagnosed Johnson with a headache, back pain and a contusion — or deep bruise — of the shoulder, according to discharge instructions from Logan Regional Medical Center.

Logan County Schools Superintendent Patricia Lucas said she and the police department are conducting separate investigations into the arrest.

The investigation by Logan schools includes silent video from surveillance cameras, Lucas said. Video and audio from a body camera are available only to the police department.

She said school officials are reviewing statements from those involved, such as Atkinson. Although she did not have a statement from Maynard on hand Tuesday afternoon, Lucas said she spoke with him after the incident.

“I can’t answer what the common procedure is for law enforcement,” she said. “I know their training is different than school personnel training. I did get that in our discussion, in my discussion with the officer. I really can’t comment on what their training is like. That’s out of my knowledge base.”

Lucas said it’s unclear how long the investigations will take or what outcomes are possible.

Resource officers are rotated at Logan High School each week, Lucas said. No single person staffs the school for more than a few consecutive days.

Several months ago, she said, the Logan County Board of Education agreed to enter a proposal that could bring a dedicated resource officer to the school.

The district staffs a single resource officer at Man High School using a grant and a partnership with the Logan County Sheriff’s Office.

Lucas said she hopes to do the same at Logan High School by next school year.

School board member Jeremy Farley said he is aware of Boatwright’s complaint. He and the other members will later review the superintendent’s findings and decide if action should be taken.

Neither Lucas nor Farley knew if Maynard is still working at the school.

“We’re trying to make sure that we are looking into gathering all of the information that we can,” Lucas said.

In the meantime, Boatwright said she is working to hold the school accountable for what she believes was an injustice against her son.

Reach Giuseppe Sabella at giuseppe.sabella@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @Gsabella on Twitter.

Funerals Today, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Armstead, David - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.

Crawford, Charles - 7:30 p.m., Andrews' residence, Belleaire at Devonshire, Scott Depot.

Duff, Catherine Ann - 11 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Jarrett, Shirley - 1 p.m., Mt. Juliet United Methodist Church, Belle.

Lawrentz, Deo Mansfried - 11 a.m., Koontz Cemetery, Clendenin.

McGraw, Judy Fay - 2 p.m., Jodie Missionary Baptist Church, Jodie.

Mullins, Alice Ellen (Blessing) - Noon, Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Staats, Anthony Vernon “Tony” - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.