DA Reviewing After Woodland Hills Student's Tooth Knocked Out By School Resource Officer

Apr 6, 2017

  The district attorney was reviewing allegations that a police officer assigned to a suburban Pittsburgh school knocked out the tooth of a 14-year-old student accused of stealing another student's cell phone.

The student is represented by attorney Todd Hollis, who earlier this year accused the principal of the same school, Woodland Hills High School, with threatening to punch a different 14-year-old student in the face over a disciplinary matter.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. then declined to file charges against principal Kevin Murray, though the prosecutor called the Murray's remarks "inappropriate and arguably threatening." Murray was placed on paid leave while the DA and school district reviewed the allegations, but was reinstated.

But now Hollis is claiming Murray witnessed the latest confrontation and should resign along with the officer, who works for the Churchill police department but is assigned to the high school.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire," Hollis said Wednesday. "This tells me there's a problem at Woodland Hills High School that needs to be corrected."

Murray's attorney, Phil DiLucente, said his client wasn't involved in the latest incident, which Hollis said occurred Monday afternoon.

"Casting his name in this light with respect to the alleged incident is not only inflammatory but completely unnecessary and only done to damage his reputation," DiLucente said.

The teen who accused Murray of threatening him went public with an audio recording in late November.

Then-Churchill police Chief Allen Park later said the boy was charged in juvenile court with violating state wiretap laws for recording a September school discipline meeting involving a dispute with the another student and then posting the recording on Facebook. It's illegal to record anyone in Pennsylvania without their knowledge. Juvenile court records are generally sealed in Pennsylvania, so the outcome of that case isn't clear.

The student in the latest incident has been suspended from school and could face charges over the phone. Hollis has advised the boy's family not to have him return to school.

Woodland Hills School District Superintendent Alan Johnson said he's investigating, but didn't have any immediate information that school employees did anything wrong.

"We certainly regret that the student was injured, that's not what we want to ever see happen," Johnson said. "Mr. Hollis made some serious allegations and I need to investigate them and, when we've done that, I'll have a statement to issue."

DA's spokesman Mike Manko said the results of Zappala's review will be shared with the FBI, which also investigates allegation of police misconduct.