Fresno Unified Trustee Terry Slatic will not face criminal prosecution related to a physical confrontation with a student at Bullard High School.
The Fresno County District Attorney’s office announced Friday (Feb. 15) afternoon that it wouldn’t file charges against Slatic or the 15-year old student involved in the Jan. 11 incident.
A security-camera video released by the school district showed Slatic grabbing the backpack from the student. The student then retrieved his bag and ran away.
Slatic told GV Wire after the incident that the student made threats to kill him and his aide, Michelle Asadoorian, who accompanied the trustee on a visit to the campus.
Slatic’s Attorney: ‘Result Is not Unexpected’
“This result is not unexpected,” said attorney Charles K. Manock, who represents Slattick. “The district attorney had access to all the participants, not just the video.
“I expect Fresno Unified to come out with its internal report, which we will be responding to after Trustee Slatic reviews it.
“I expect that Fresno Unified will not release that report publicly given that a minor is involved.”
The school district launched its investigation concurrently with the initial Fresno police inquiry. The police department then turned over its report to the DA’s office.
Roger Bonakdar, the attorney for the student, did not reply to GV Wire’s request for comment.
In response to GV Wire’s request for comment on the DA’s decision, a Fresno Unified spokeswoman instead referenced the district’s investigation:
“Our investigation to the Jan. 11 incident has (been) completed. Our board received an overview at Wednesday’s board meeting. At this point, each board member will review the report in its entirety.”
District Attorney’s Reasoning
“In order to prosecute Mr. Slatic for the crime of battery, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Slatic touched the juvenile in a harmful or offensive manner, AND that Mr. Slatic did not act in self-defense or in defense of someone else,” the DA’s office said in a news release.
“The juvenile’s threat to Mr. Slatic, in conjunction with the recorded video and statements of witnesses, resulted in the legal conclusion that the prosecution would not be able to disprove that Mr. Slatic acted in self-defense.”
DA: Student Threatened Slatic
Similarly, the DA’s office said the evidence against the student didn’t meet the legal threshold for filing charges.
“In order to prosecute the unnamed fifteen-year-old juvenile for the crime of criminal threats, the prosecution must prove that the juvenile threatened to kill or cause great bodily injury to Mr. Slatic, AND that the threat caused Mr. Slatic to be in sustained fear for his safety,” the DA’s office said. “Although the juvenile threatened Mr. Slatic, there was no evidence that Mr. Slatic was in sustained fear, leading to the legal conclusion that the prosecution would not be able to prove this crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”
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After the incident became public, the community split into camps — those who supported Slatic’s version of events and felt he had a right to self-defense; and those who felt he went too far and wanted him to resign. Some people have talked of organizing a recall against Slatic, a retired Marine major who was elected to the board in November.
Slatic stood his ground and refused to budge. He said that the school district’s reaction, especially from Superintendent Bob Nelson, was an attempt to smear him.
Nelson told the media that the video spoke for itself, despite the fact it did not have audio. A letter that Nelson wrote to the Board of Education was leaked to The Fresno Bee. In the letter, Nelson said that Slatic’s communications with him were “disturbing.”
Said Manock: “We are encouraging Fresno Unified to find out who leaked the letter and take action on that.”
No Action from Board
The Slatic incident appeared on the school board agenda this past Wednesday (Feb. 13) in closed session. The board reported no action when it returned to open session.
However, Bonakdar has indicated that he may file a civil action on behalf of his client. The attorney also sent the board an admonishing letter for not properly notifying the public about its Jan. 15 emergency meeting, saying that it was a possible violation of California’s open meeting laws.