The attorney representing a Bullard High School freshman involved in a physical altercation with a Fresno Unified school board member says his client didn’t trigger the incident.

Video of the Jan. 11 incident released by the school district shows Fresno Unified School District trustee Terry Slatic in a physical tussle with the student.

Slatic, speaking about the incident to GV Wire last week, said the student threatened to shoot and kill Slatic and his assistant, Michelle Asadoorian.

“The video does not support such an account. My understanding is that Mr. Slatic contends that the threat was why he turned around and approached my client, which is just completely illogical and unsupported by what is depicted in the video,” said the student’s attorney, Roger Bonakdar of Fresno.

Bonakdar would not confirm the identity of the student, other than he is a freshman at Bullard.

The video — which can be seen at the top of this page — shows Slatic and Asadoorian walking by the student, then Slatic turning around and engaging in a physical confrontation. Slatic forcibly grabbed the student’s backpack and placed it on the ground. The student then took the bag and ran off.

Attorney Says Slatic Should Have Diffused Situation

Attorney Roger Bonakdar (Photo: Avvo)

“The video does not support such an account. My understanding is that Mr. Slatic contends that the threat was why he turned around and approached my client, which is just completely illogical and unsupported by what is depicted in the video.”Attorney Roger Bonakdar

Bonakdar said Slatic’s actions were inappropriate.

“The situation at hand is one that everyone should be troubled by. These are children. … Adults, and specifically people that are acting on behalf of the school district, should be held to at a minimum the same standard children are. And that is that you don’t resort to physical violence — use your words and you diffuse a situation.

“That is not what happened here. Instead, Mr. Slatic decided to take matters into his own hands, which is completely irreconcilable with the notion that my client threatened him in any way. Because if he was in fact threatened, then these statements about him being concerned about his safety were true, you wouldn’t see Mr. Slatic going 25 feet physically towards my client while my client is trying to go away and get away and is making no menacing or physical movements that would suggest a threat.

“So, it’s really an interesting circumstance and I’m looking forward to getting to the bottom of it,” Bonakdar said.

Student’s Account

Responding to GV Wire’s questions about Slatic’s account of events, Bonakdar doubts his client said anything to the trustee or his assistant in the first place.

“That makes no sense because you don’t have any interaction between Mr. Slatic, his assistant and my client, until Mr. Slatic has already passed him and walked more than 20 feet away from him. And even if there was a verbal exchange — which again it doesn’t even make sense that there would be at that juncture — the child has the good sense to remove himself from the interaction whereas Mr. Slatic continues to pursue the child,” Bonakdar said.

Slatic says the student used foul language, which got his attention.

Bonakdar noted that Slatic is not an administrator or teacher. The student did not know Slatic before the confrontation and considered him a stranger, the attorney said.

“He tried to walk away. I don’t think that there’s any dispute about that.”

Student Back on Campus

Though the student did not miss any class time because of the confrontation, Bonakdar said the incident has affected his client.

“The situation rattled him because he wouldn’t expect to have a physical altercation with an adult on campus. But, it actually was made much worse when we learned that this was someone that had a role with the school district,” Bonakdar said.

“His trust in the system, and the notion that teachers will follow the rules that they instruct students to follow, to use your words to diffuse situations and to seek the help of authorities or a police officer when needed, was not heeded here. So he has some anxiety. He’s definitely nervous around administrators now. And it’s not affected him for the better that’s for certain.”


Police Investigation

Fresno police conducted an investigation. The report is headed to the Fresno County District Attorney’s office, if it is not there already.

Police say they wrote a general incident report, without making specific recommendations because of the conflicting nature of the confrontation. Battery is being looked at on both sides.

Battery is considered willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another.

Next Steps

Bonakdar said he is still gathering information before deciding on the next steps, including filing a lawsuit against the district.

“I want to get a full picture of things before we make any affirmative steps one way or the other. For now, the family’s primary concern is making sure that the child doesn’t have any reprisals for this and for telling the truth about how he was accosted,” Bonakdar said.

7 Responses

  1. Roger R

    You, Mr Bonakdar, must have had the same discipline as that freshman student growing up, NONE! A simple belt to the bottom when out of line growing up would take care of most of our problems in America! Problem is people such as yourself protecting these kids (and adults) and saying oh NOW he has anxiety and stress due to the altercation and probably needs to sue to be better off! Thing about it is when these kids get out of line, you think talking can get solve everything!

  2. Lolo M

    Leave it to a lawyer to make this out in every possible way to turn this kid from a punk into a victim. I shake my head daily at the lack of respect and discipline we have allowed to overtake our society. The kid should have been in class if it was class time, and I find it hard to believe the little “cherub” didn’t say something foul mouthed and inappropriate. Stop giving these kids the easy out for bad behavior and then rewarding the behavior by filing lawsuits and such.

    • EJ

      How come there is no mention by anyone that when the kid shrugged off his backpack he immediately went to a fighting position as if he were going to throw blows with Mr. Slatic? The kid is a punk and should be disciplined. The lawyer just sees an opportunity to make a buck, shameful what America has become. Liberal California mentality, it will only get worse.

  3. Monandack Man

    Excuse me, two witnesses with quantifiable credentials, and now this pops up? This specific incident tells you the system is genuinely broken within our school system since political correctness overrides any common sense approach solutions. Leaders in education should have demonstrated skills working in private industry (I fully understand this is a massive stretch); however, the mistakes made over these last decades indicate inaction is better than direct problem resolution, it seems!

  4. Em

    The attorney’s statement, “The situation rattled him because he wouldn’t expect to have a physical altercation with an adult on campus” is telling to say the least. Many students at FUSD get away with cursing, intimidating, threatening teachers, staff, students and disrupting teaching and learning, so of course he did not expect to have an altercation with an adult who wouldn’t toletrate his behavior! Look at his fighting stance after the backpack was removed. It speaks volumns! And wasn’t there a witness. Lets hear what she has to say.

  5. Em

    Just re-watched the video in a screen larger than my phone. After the verbal confrontation that appeared to be initiated by student, Slatic removed students’s backpack and the student physically pushed Slatic and continued to make fighting/physical threats at Slatic with his fists, at which time Slatic dropped the backpack and the student picked it up and ran off.

  6. Alex station

    I love how everybody’s blaming the student , If you took psychology you understand about the flight or fight that takes over you when someone’s attacking you
    , apparently trustee Slatic Needs to visit the shrink at the VA because this is not his first altercation with school officials , students , staff and adults the guys a ticking time bomb and needs to be recalled immediately what is this day 40 we have to wait 90 days


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