published Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Dalton student charged with assaulting pregnant teacher after throwing cell phone

A Dalton, Ga., high school student grabbed his phone during English class, chucked it, smashed it and went to jail Wednesday.

The Whitfield County Sheriff's Office charged 17-year-old Ruendy Martinez, of a Lillian Drive address, with simple assault against a public school system employee, disrupting public school and disorderly conduct. The teenager remained in jail Thursday in lieu of a bond of $2,500.

Martinez got into trouble Wednesday afternoon in 25-year-old Hannah Joseph Oliver's English class, according to a sheriff's office incident report. Oliver's support teacher, 34-year-old Amie Daves Wood, then took away Martinez's phone.

At the end of class, Wood planned to take Martinez's phone to the front office. But the boy told Wood that he kept money tucked into the back of the phone, so she let him open it up, the report states. She later told school resource officer Brian Dyer there was no money inside.

For some reason, Martinez then threw the phone against a wall, and Wood left the room to tell an assistant principal. Martinez picked up the phone and threw it against another wall, according to the report.

This time, Oliver grabbed the phone and told him to go to the front office.

"He did not make any motion to raise a hand or threaten me," Oliver later told Dyer, "but I felt threatened by his body movements toward me because I was holding his phone, and I was afraid that he was going to try to take it from me."

In the office, Dyer told Martinez he was going to jail, according to the report.

"I have done nothing to be arrested," the boy responded.

When asked why Martinez was arrested instead of being given school-related discipline, such as suspension, Principal Denise Pendley said that Dyer decides whether a student's actions violated state law.

Dyer did not return multiple calls seeking comment. He transferred a message from the Times Free Press to his boss, Sheriff Scott Chitwood, who said the school resource officer should arrest any student who has broken a law.

Asked why Martinez was charged with assault when the student did not touch anybody, Chitwood said he was unfamiliar with the case.

"I don't have that bit of information," he said.

According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 16-5-20(a)(2), a person commits simple assault by doing something that makes another person afraid he or she will get hurt.

After arresting Martinez, Dyer checked on Oliver, who is six months pregnant, according to the report. Oliver's pulse rate was normal, Dyer wrote in his report, but he told an assistant principal to call an ambulance because Oliver said she felt lightheaded.

Judy Gilreath, superintendent of Whitfield County Schools, said Thursday that Oliver was fine. But because an ambulance had to come to campus, according to the arrest report, the school had to go into a "medical lockdown."

As a result, Dyer wrote, Martinez also was charged with disrupting public school.

On Thursday afternoon, a woman who identified herself as Martinez's guardian said she could not talk about the arrest. She said she needed first to get the boy bonded out of jail so that he could tell her what happened.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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