A Broward County school bus assistant was arrested for aggravated child abuse after he choked a 13-year-old autistic boy with a safety harness on the bus, authorities said.
Darryl Blue, 48, of Fort Lauderdale “maliciously punished” the middle school student by choking him with the harness he was wearing on Oct. 9, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said in a complaint affidavit.
The boy woke up the next day complaining that his neck was hurting, telling his mother that “Mr. Man” choked him and adding, “Don’t let him hurt me,” according to the affidavit. “Mr. Man” was identified as Blue, the affidavit said.
He had small bruises on his neck, it said.
Broward schools spokesperson Marsy Smith said that Blue has been reassigned within the Transportation Department to a position away from students pending the outcome of the investigation.
His mother, Bertis Paulino, told NBC 6 South Florida that Blue should be fired. She also said that she'd like to meet him.
"Honestly I would like to get my hands on him, and it's not going to be a pretty thing. Because my son has never been exposed to violence," she said.
Surveillance video showed that the boy, who had urinated in his pants, was touching his urine before reaching back and attempting to touch Blue with his hands, the affidavit said. As that was happening, Blue kept pulling on the strap attached to the harness, the affidavit added.
At one point, Blue said while choking the boy, “He won’t be this color when he gets home, he will raspberry,” the affidavit said. About 12 minutes later, the bus driver told Blue, “You’re choking him,” the affidavit said.
Blue told authorities that he should not have done what he did, that he was wrong and that he was “too tough” on the victim, the affidavit said.
Blue was arrested Wednesday afternoon, the affidavit said. Blue’s case was filed in court Thursday, but a defense attorney is not yet listed for him, according to online Broward court records.
Blue was hired as a substitute bus attendant in January 2000, left the district from February 2005 to April 2008, and has worked for the district since then, becoming a bus attendant in August 2008, Smith said.
A bus attendant touching a student is out of line, Paulino said.
"They have to train these people, they cannot let just anybody work with kids like that," she said.