The father of an 11-year-old autistic boy is suing the city of New York for $5 million (£3.5m) after his son was punched in the face by a teacher's aide at school, leaving the boy concussed. Milton Parker, the teacher's aide in question, pleaded guilty to felony assault in April 2015 and was sentenced to anger management courses.
Parker, who is also being sued by the father, has come out unapologetic for his actions, telling the New York Daily News: "Who gets hit and doesn't respond? ...The kid punched me in the eye first and as a reflex he got hit back."
Eleven-year-old Anatoly Veltman has the mental capacity of a six year old. The incident occurred in the cafeteria of Public School 225 in Brighton Beach. Parker went to speak to Anatoly after he spilled ice and threw a napkin on the floor. Anatoly then said to Parker, who is black: "This table is for whites only." Anatoly apologised but then threw a punch at Parker, who retaliated, concussing the boy.
Anatoly's father said that paraprofessionals in schools should be trained in how to deal with autistic children acting out, something he said was not unusual. "I was very upset to see my son abused by someone entrusted to care for him," he told the NY Daily News.
Scott Rynecki, the lawyer representing the Veltmans, said: "The Department of Education has a duty and responsibility to better train their paraprofessionals so a shocking incident like this does not occur."
Parker said he cannot afford a lawyer and is representing himself in the suit. He retired from the Department of Education, where he had worked for 26 years, after the incident. Parker says that he believes the video released vindicates his argument that his punch was simply a reflex: "I knew it was on camera... If it was intentional, I would have taken him to another room and beaten the snot out of him."