School, officer sued in SC teen death
Fri, 02 Sep 2011 16:58:19 GMT —
The parents of a 16-year-old student who was killed by a school resource officer at Carolina Forest High School are suing the school system, Horry County police and the officer.
In the lawsuit filed Friday, Tom and Karen Varinecz say officer Marcus Rhodes was not properly trained to deal with students with disabilities. Trevor had Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.
"They process things differently, they're extremely smart but they have problems taking small things and turning them into action. They need to have some regimented programs to keep them in order," says Edward Bell, an attorney representing Tom and Karen Varinecz.
The parents also claim the school did not inform them before severely cutting back supervision of their son as he attended classes.
Trevor's parents say the amount of hours his shadow spent with him went from 900 minutes to 45 minutes per week. They go on to say after the reduction in hours, Trevor became depressed and was bullied.
Bell says they still have many unanswered questions. "They've never been able to get any answers and they feel like that there's been a cover up and they think that it's not been properly investigated. I think that they feel like maybe the the citizens in a court can do a better investigation than the school district themselves."
Also in the suit, the parents accuse Rhodes of using excessive force and violating Varinecz's right to due process.
Authorities say Trevor Varinecz attacked Rhodes with a bayonet in his office in October 2009 and was shot five times after a struggle. Rhodes suffered superficial injuries. Prosecutors ruled the shooting was justified.
"You question why would a resource officer have a gun that would hold ten bullets that he can shoot ten times at this kid. Why would you have a policeman or a resource officer in a school that has a gun like that? That's one of the first questions that I as a parent would ask."
The suit asks for actual, consequential, and punitive damages.
Horry County Schools and Horry County told us they have yet to be served with the lawsuit. That's likely to happen in a couple weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report