On the day he was to have gone to trial, a paraprofessional for Toledo Public Schools who broke a student’s wrist entered an Alford plea Thursday and was found guilty of endangering children.
Anthony Miller, 46, of the 2900 block of South Byrne Road faces up to 36 months in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 22 by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Stacy Cook.
Drew Wood, an assistant county prosecutor, told the court that Miller was escorting an 11-year-old student with behavioral issues to the bus after school at Robinson Achievement Academy on Jan. 26 when Miller decided “to go hands on” and crossed the line into criminal recklessness.
The student had been in a fight with another student earlier that afternoon, but his behavior had “de-escalated” and it was determined he could walk to his bus, Mr. Wood said.
At one point, the student began walking away from the bus door and, when Miller touched him on the shoulder to guide him back, the student screamed that he would not get on the bus.
“He grabs the child, hauls him backwards, and pushes him up on the bus while the child screams, ‘Let me go. Let me go. Jesus. Jesus,’” Mr. Wood said. “It is a fast and violent act. It comes from behind the child who is not expecting it. Mr. Miller is twice the child’s size. An adult in that situation would feel attacked.”
Surveillance video from the bus shows Miller place the student facedown on the floor of the bus, and the student appears to try to strike Miller in the face, Mr. Wood said, prompting Miller to say repeatedly, “Who are you swinging at?”
“Mr. Miller then attempts to control [the student’s] right arm. He pulls the right arm up behind [his] body until the arm and wrist appear to rotate above [his] head,” Mr. Wood said. “He then adjusts his grip and pulls [the student’s] wrist and arm out to the right.”
The student goes silent then begins shrieking. An examination would later reveal his wrist was broken.
Miller, who declined to comment after the hearing, was suspended without pay by TPS after the incident and remains on suspension, said TPS Spokesman Patty Mazur.
Miller was indicted on a second-degree felony charge of endangering children, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, but the plea agreement reduced the charge to a third-degree felony.
In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit to committing a crime, but acknowledges evidence is sufficient for a conviction that could result in a more severe sentence.
In advance of Miller’s sentencing, the court scheduled an evidentiary hearing for 9:30 a.m. Friday where both sides plan to present expert witnesses to describe how they believe Miller did or did not follow the crisis prevention standards in which he was trained and certified.
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