MOBILE COUNTY, AL (WALA/CNN) – Police say four high school students will face assault charges after an apparent hazing incident in which a 14-year-old football player was beaten by about 20 of his teammates.
Furious by the response from their son's school, Davidson High School in Mobile, AL, freshman Rodney Kim Jr.’s parents are suing the school district and pressing charges against all the assailants.
"He could've been paralyzed. He could've been killed,” said Rodney Kim Sr., the boy’s father.
Three students, all under the age of 18, have already been charged with third-degree assault related to the incident. Police are searching for a fourth student wanted on the same charge.
Police say the younger Kim, who had just gotten promoted to the varsity team, stated that after practice on April 27, the team was headed to the locker room, and one of the leaders of the team pushed him to the floor.
That’s when cell phone video shows about 20 other upperclassmen started hitting, kicking and physically jumping on top of the 14-year-old.
That afternoon, the freshman’s parents got a call he’d been hurt at practice. Before taking their son to the hospital, they quickly figured out what happened.
The 14-year-old has a busted lip, bruises and a broken arm. He had surgery on his arm on Wednesday.
Now, the teenager’s parents are demanding action against the teens in the video. They also say they want head coach Fred Riley and his staff fired because they believe Riley knew about the apparent hazing tradition.
"You are teaching the kids now to be a coward because that's what you were doing in this situation,” the elder Kim said.
The parents are also expressing frustration with the school system, including long time Davidson principal Lewis Copeland, who had already announced his retirement before this incident.
Superintendent Martha Peek is also retiring soon. The family says it took almost a week for her to reach out to them.
In a press conference last week, Peek said coaches were nearby when the assault happened.
"All of them were in close proximity. When they realized that there was an increased amount of noise in the locker room area, they responded,” she said.
The elder Kim disputes Peek’s claim.
"Excuse me, but that's a lie. My child never encountered a coach until he was helped off the floor by a couple of other freshmen that are his friends and stumbled out of the field house, and that's when he bumped into the quarterbacks' coach coming around the corner. No coaches were ever in the vicinity,” he said.
The younger Kim’s parents say their $12 million lawsuit against the school district will also ask for the team to forfeit the upcoming football season.
The Mobile County District Attorney says her plan is to prosecute as many of the students in the video as possible.
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