Thursday, August 28, 2014
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors said Thursday they will not file charges against a Northern California mother accused of grabbing the throat of a 12-year-old boy she suspected of bullying her daughter.
The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office said there were conflicting witness statements, and that prosecutors could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Delia Garcia-Bratcher attacked the boy.
The case sparked debate on social media over how best to respond to bullying at school.
Garcia-Bratcher, 30, was arrested on suspicion of child abuse in the May 16 confrontation at a Santa Rosa elementary school. Two students said they saw her grab the boy by the throat, according to investigators.
Most of the eyewitnesses interviewed by prosecutors were children, and there were a few teachers on yard duty at the time, Sonoma County Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Brockley said.
However, there was no consensus about whether Garcia-Bratcher grabbed the boy, he said.
"Ethically, I can only file charges that I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury," Brockley said. "If I don't have that evidence, then I can't file charges."
Sheriff's officials also said they could not find any evidence linking the boy to the bullying allegations, and that Garcia-Bratcher might have targeted the wrong person.
Garcia-Bratcher acknowledged confronting the boy but said she did not touch him. In a seven-page report, an investigator hired by her attorney, Ben Adams, quoted a 10-year-old saying he saw the boy put both hands around his own neck after the encounter with Garcia-Bratcher.
Adams said Thursday his client was glad to have the case behind her.
"They arrested her for no reason and dragged her to court for no reason," he said.
The incident occurred after Garcia-Bratcher went to the school to discuss her children's registration with an administrator and saw the boy she thought was her daughter's tormenter eating his lunch.
The boy said Garcia-Bratcher yelled at him and grabbed him by the throat. Administrators called police after they noticed red marks on the boy's neck.
Garcia-Bratcher was arrested the next day and released hours later after posting $30,000 bail.