GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The pictures posted on Facebook have everybody talking. How did a boy with Cerebral Palsy end up bruised and bloodied at school?
According to the victim and his mom, a derogatory word may have sparked the attack. The boy's mom said her son was bullied and she wants justice.
Fourteen-year-old Austin Stokes said he was punched at George County High Thursday. Austin has Cerebral Palsy and is legally blind. He said it all started when the student who hit him called him a bad name.
"I was just walking in the breeze way, and I threw a Coke can at him and then he punched me," said Austin Stokes.
When asked why he threw the soda can, Austin replied, "Because he called me a retard."
Austin's left eye is bruised and practically swollen shut. There's a huge knot on his head and scrapes and cuts on his face and hands. The George County High freshman said he does not know the boy who hit him.
"That's all I could do was cry," said Austin's mom, Lori Dees, describing the moment she saw her son's bloody face.
She said several people have told her the punch was so hard, it knocked Austin off his feet. He fell to the ground and chipped a tooth. Like so many people, she wondered why someone would do this to her son, who can barely walk and see because of his disabilities.
"Just anger. I was angry that someone could do this to a special needs child, someone who can't defend themselves," said Dees.
Dees said the name calling is a form of bullying.
"It just hurts me to have to see him go through the bullying. I was told that he called Austin a retard. And that Austin, whenever he hears people talk about him like that, he gets upset and cries and says he feels stupid," said Dees.
Dee said she wants the school to file more than just simple assault charges against the student who hit her son. She also wants that student expelled from school.
"I feel that he needs to have some time in jail," said Austin.
When asked how he feels about going back to school, Austin replied, "Not safe."
"Being a mom, I want to see justice. I want it to be made right for Austin," said Dees.
George County Schools Superintendent Debbie Harrell sent WLOX this statement:
"State law prohibits our school district from publicly discussing specific matters involving students. The school has conducted a thorough investigation into the incident, and has taken appropriate action that is consistent with the Mississippi School Safety Manual and the policies and procedures of the George County School District."
Harrell also had a message for the thousands of people on social media sites like Facebook who are reading and writing about the attack.
"It has also come to our attention that some person(s) have reported to the traditional and social media and have displayed photographs as well as given partial or inaccurate accounts of events believed to have happened at our school. Because of confidentiality rights of our students, we cannot publicly respond to the charges and accusations that some people have made. We have been and continue to cooperate with all law enforcement agencies as this incident is investigated, and we encourage the public to allow the official agencies to take such action as the law allows and is deemed appropriate by those agencies. Out of respect to our students and George County, we encourage no further gossip on social media sites."