A New Jersey mother claims that a 13-year-old who had threatened her son punched her as she walked him home, knocking her unconscious as she pushed her 1-year-old along the street in a stroller.
Her face was fractured, and she was left with a concussion.
Prosecutors confirmed (pdf) that the 13-year-old had been charged with assault over the incident on June 19 in Passaic County.
Beronica Ruiz said that the previous day, her 12-year-old son had been harassed and threatened by a group of students.
She was walking home with him from the Gifted and Talented Academy in Passaic when one of those students approached them.
“I told the guy, ‘Stop, don’t bother my son,'” she told ABC7. “And the child said to me, ‘Shut up,’… and punched me.”
Photographs obtained by local media show Ruiz with a bloodshot eye and a large bruise around her right eye socket.
“When the mother stepped in front of the juvenile actor, he struck her causing her to temporarily lose consciousness and fall to the sidewalk,” said Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes in a statement (pdf).
“The juvenile actor also struck the juvenile victim in the face. The adult victim was treated at the hospital for facial fractures and a concussion.”
The unnamed 13-year-old has been charged with one count each of aggravated assault and simple assault.
“Despite this accusation, the juvenile is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the prosecutor’s statement.
Ruiz’s lawyer said he plans to file a lawsuit against the school on behalf of the family, reported NJ.com. He claims that the school did not do anything to protect the child.
“Lawsuits are the only thing that large institutions listen to,” he said.
On the day of the alleged threats in school Ruiz’s son was sequestered in an office or classroom for the remainder of the day for his own safety, reported North Jersey.
However, the school did not inform the family, only acknowledging the threats when his mother went down to the school after her son arrived home and told her what had happened.
The following morning, the boy’s father, Alfonso Vasquez, walked him to school after he said he was frightened to go in. He met with the school’s vice principal, who told him the lack of a call to the family had been an oversight.
The parents say that they are angry that the suspect was still in school, not immediately suspended, the day after the attack that put Ruiz in hospital, reported Pix11.
According to Ruiz’s lawyer, Daniel Santiago, the suspect was suspended only after Vasquez contacted the local mayor.
Santiago told NJ.com the school’s response was “woefully inadequate,” adding, “’My bad’ is not a good excuse for not calling [the parents], not telling them.”
According to Santiago, the three boys had been taunting Ruiz’s son over his Mexican heritage, chanting “Mexicans should go back behind the wall.” (He is a U.S. citizen). When he stood up to them they threatened violence.
“This was a horrific and brutal attack,” Santiago told NJ.com. “It takes a certain level of insanity to brutally attack a mother with a stroller and leave her for dead.”
Passaic Mayor Hector C. Lora told PIX11 he has met with local authorities and the school administration.
“This incident is being taken extremely seriously,” he said. “The details regarding what led up to this incident remain under investigation however one thing is very clear what occurred to this mother is unacceptable and whatever we need to do as a city, as a community to do better by our families and our children we will do.”