Video provides probable cause for harassment charge
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
An Escambia County school bus driver was arrested last week on a misdemeanor charge after he physically accosted an elementary school student who was a passenger on the bus.
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks confirmed that 75-year-old Arthur “Bud” Lambeth was charged in Atmore Municipal Court with one count of harassment.
Under Alabama Code Section 13-A-11-8, harassment occurs when a person, “with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm” another person “strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches that person or subjects him or her to physical contact.”
According to a Facebook posting by Micelle Willis, the mother of the 9-year-old Rachel Patterson Elementary School student, her son had a sore on his face that was torn open when the driver pushed him against a seat.
“My son was assaulted by his bus driver, Bud Lambeth, on bus 1301,” she wrote. “He pinched [her son’s] nose and pushed his head against the seat. I took my child to the hospital because an old sore had opened and he hit his head on the seat.”
Technically, that’s the point at which APD became involved. A nurse at Atmore Community Hospital reportedly called the police department and notified them of the youngster’s injury and how it had supposedly come about.
“She took her child to the hospital, and the hospital called us,” Brooks said. “It is my understanding that the child had a scrape on his cheek from a previous injury, and the scab came off during the incident [on the bus].”
APD investigators eventually obtained a copy of the in-bus video from county school officials before approving issuance of a warrant, and — the chief said — the footage backed up the woman’s story.
“We viewed the video, and it is what it is,” Brooks said. “[Lambeth] touched the kid, and he shouldn’t have done it.”
Superintendent of Education John Knott said he was prohibited from commenting on the incident because of the ongoing investigation, and Board of Education Chairman Willie J. Grissett echoed those sentiments.
“We’re not allowed to say anything at this time,” Grissett said.
Willis expressed that she was at a loss as to what triggered the bus driver’s actions, since her son has never been labeled a trouble-maker.
“My son would have been labeled a thug if he would have hit [Lambeth] back,” she said. “My child has never been in trouble. He is a straight-A student and has won numerous state awards.”
Lambeth reportedly posted bond and was released shortly after his arrest.