An Andrews High School student could face 30 days in jail after allegedly throwing a paper airplane that struck a teacher in the eye.
On Tuesday, Jan. 10, Georgetown County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested 17-year-old David Michael Elliott after his instructor, Edward McIver, told them he was struck in the eye by a paper airplane he threw during class. He was charged with third-degree assault and battery.
Times staff requested a copy of the incident report concerning Elliott's arrest after seeing his name, mugshot and charge in the Georgetown County Detention Center booking record. In response, the sheriff's office provided the report, but redacted the name of the student who was arrested.
According to the incident report, McIver - a science teacher, who also serves on the Florence Public School District One Board of Trustees - contacted the school resource officer, Deputy Paul Glover, and told him he had been struck in the eye. In the report, Glover noted McIver's eye appeared "very red." Glover said McIver was "very upset" about being struck in the eye because of a recent ocular surgery.
McIver reported he spoke with other students, Glover said, who told him Elliott threw the paper airplane at him during class. He added, Glover said, he and Elliott had been involved in past confrontations over Elliott's behavior and "something needs to be done." Glover said McIver also told him, if Elliott was responsible, he wanted to press charges.
Glover reported he then met with Elliott and a vice principal in the school's conference room. It was then, he said, Elliott said he did throw the paper airplane at McIver. Elliott added he intended to hit McIver in the head, Glover said, instead of the eye. Glover added Elliott did not provide a "logical reason" as to why he threw the airplane at McIver.
Elliott was then cited for third-degree assault and battery, a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. Later that day, he was transported to the Georgetown County Detention Center, where he was later released on a $1,087.50 bond.
According to statute 16-3-600, third degree assault and battery occurs when "the person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so."
When asked if she felt Elliott's arrest was warranted, AHS Principal Michelle Greene said she thought the incident did constitute an assault, but added deputies make the ultimate determination as to whether criminal charges are filed.
"That's the law enforcement side," Greene said. "That is a violation of school policy, but if law enforcement ... deem it necessary to get a warrant for it, then that's what happens. The school does not interfere with law enforcement business, and they don't interfere with ours."
In a separate interview with Times staff, Georgetown County School District Director of Safety and Risk Management Alan Walters echoed Greene's response, and added school staff is duty-bound to report perceived crimes.
"If any employee believes a crime has taken place, we report it," Walters said. "Law enforcement makes a decision if a crime occurred or not and, if it did, whether they choose to file charges or not."
When asked if he was concerned over a possible public perception of whether Elliott should have been arrested for throwing a paper airplane, Walters declined to comment.
"I'm not going to get into all that," he said. "We did what we were supposed to do, and from there it was in law enforcement's hands."
Times staff contacted GCSO Sgt. Ursula Armstrong, who supervises the county's school resources officers, for comment on the incident. Armstrong declined and deferred all comment to the department's public information office and to Assistant Sheriff Carter Weaver.
Lt. Mike Nelson, who oversees the GCSO's public information office, responded to the request for interview. Nelson deferred to the statute when asked how the incident constituted assault, but declined to address questions aimed at the necessity of Elliott's arrest.
"I'm not going to debate the contents here," Nelson said. "The deputy felt there was sufficient probable cause to charge and made the charge."
Elliott's first court appearance was scheduled for Feb. 14. It was unknown if he was being represented by an attorney.