School bus driver is charged with battery and fired after shocking video revealed him shoving black brother and sister aged six and ten and ordering them to the back of the coach
- James O’Neil fired and charged with two counts of simple battery on Friday
- Cell phone footage from two students showed him shoving children six and ten
- Mother Nequania Carter implied the shocking incident was racially motivated
- However, investigators could not be certain there was racist aspect to the crime
A white bus driver has been fired and charged with battery after mobile phone footage emerged of him pushing two young black siblings to the back of the bus.
James O’Neil, a bus driver for the Morgan Country Charter School System in Georgia, was arrested and charged with two counts of simple battery Friday, September 16.
Nequania Carter, the mother of the two children, aged 6 and 10, claimed the same bus driver had harassed her children in the past and implied the incident was racially motivated.
However, despite studying three separate video clips of the incident including the bus security camera, investigators were not able to clearly establish whether the assault was racist in nature and so O’Neil was only charged with simple battery.
Carter said her children were traumatized after the incident and had since been removed from the school system all together.
School bus driver James O’Neil has been fired and charged with simple battery after being filmed shoving two young siblings aged six and ten and ordering them to sit at the back of the bus
James O’Neil’s mugshot after his arrest for battery on Friday September 16. Investigators were not able to clearly establish whether the assault was racist in nature and so O’Neil was only charged with simple battery
‘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 told FOX5.
It all started with the driver manhandling the six year old when he refused O’Neil’s order to take a seat at the back of the bus, even though the standard seating is for the youngest children to sit at the front.
When the 10-year-old daughter intervened to defend her brother, the video appears to show O’Neil shoving her as well.
‘Stop touching my brother!’ the sister appears to shout at the driver.
‘Shut your mouth!’ the driver replies. ‘Get back there!’ O’Neil barks, pointing to the back of the bus.
Then he delivers a forceful shove to the sister, yelling, ‘what a pain in the neck you guys are! Get out of here!’
‘I was stunned…the emotional damage that it did…my kids don’t want to go back to school…they don’t want to get back on the school bus,’ Carter said.
She said it was not the first time her family had complained about James O’Neil to school officials and she believes she singled them out for a reason.
‘I’ve never put my hands on a child and I used to drive school buses too,’ Carter stated.
The incident allegedly started with O’Neil jostling the younger brother after he refused to move to the back of the bus. He then called to his big sister to protect him
‘My kids don’t want to go back to school … they don’t want to get back on the school bus.’
It was only after the video of the incident went viral on social media was O’Neil fired and the matter referred to law enforcement by the school system.
‘The investigation resulted in the arrest of James O’Neil on two counts of simple battery,’ Morgan County Chief Deputy Keith Howard told the Morgan County Citizen.
‘While this was not a complex investigation, it was complicated by the allegation that the incident was perceived as being racially motivated.’
‘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.’
After his arrest, Carter and her husband, Blake, thanked the community for their support in pressuring the Morgan Country Charter School System to finally take action against O’Neil.
‘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 in a statement.
‘We really appreciate the NAACP for all their support and assistance and also the support from the community.’
But they criticized the school system’s initial response as only being prompted by the negative media coverage and community backlash.
‘We feel like [O’Neil] was terminated because the story got more coverage than the Morgan County Charter School System would have liked,’ Carter said.
O’Neil turns his anger on the older sister, who he shoves forcefully and yells at and calls a ‘pain in the neck’
They also said it was rumored that prior to the strong reaction they had just planned to send O’Neil to be retrained.
They also accused transportation manager Alicia Lord of ignoring multiple previous complaints by the family against the driver.
A spokesperson for the school system released a statement after the incident saying: ‘The Morgan County Charter School System was made aware of an incident Friday afternoon involving a bus driver and students.
‘We took immediate action, including notifying the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, who we are working with during the investigation.
‘We cannot share further details or comment due to this being a personnel issue; however, the driver was terminated.’
O’Neil languished in jail for a day before being released on bond. He awaits a date for his court appearance, where he will enter his plea.