NC student defends actions during high school brawl that injured 13 caught on video

HERTFORD, N.C. (WAVY) – One of five high school students charged after a hallway brawl is sharing his side of the story.

Austin Deziel, 17, said he is being unfairly punished, having only become involved in the incident after he saw female staff members being harmed.

Screenshot from the video/Austin Deziel (WAVY)
Screenshot from the video/Austin Deziel (WAVY)

“They couldn’t stop the fight, and it just kept getting worse and worse and then I saw the female principal get hit,” the teen said.

A source provided WAVY News with two cell phone videos capturing the fight. In one, Deziel is seen standing by, observing a duel among students. A woman, trying to intervene, appears to be pushed against a wall when Deziel is seen jumping in. The video then cuts.

“I wouldn’t have jumped in at all if it wasn’t for her getting hit and the rest of the female faculty getting hit.”

A second video captures Deziel struggling with another student.

“We understand as a whole, as a family, that fighting is not warranted in school but the thing about it is, is he did not start the fight, he went in to stop the fight,” said the teen’s mom, Tracy Deziel.

In total, 13 staff members were reportedly injured.

Alkeem Archer, 17, was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assaulting a school employee.

Police charged Terrill Tillet, 17, and Deziel with disorderly conduct. Two other students face charges as juveniles.

Deziel’s family said that they never expected the criminal charge. The teen’s mom said that an administrator originally told her that Deziel wasn’t in any trouble.

“He said that Austin acted in a very chivalrous manner,” she said.

The teen added: “I even had a teacher come up to me and his only words were, ‘You’re a good man.’”

Deziel was eventually slapped with a 10-day suspension, which turned into expulsion.

“I think the penalty is a little bit stiff,” his dad said.

His parents said that Deziel never had an issue in school before. Now, he’s being sent to an alternative center.

“I think the message they’re sending is… telling young people that are doing the right thing to actually stand by, and not do the right thing. That’s not acceptable.”

Perquimans County Schools Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman said that he cannot legally discuss disciplinary matters with the media. He said the school’s response is based on guidelines spelled out by the student handbook.

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