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Brawl between student and Mesa school bus driver caught on camera

Posted at 4:33 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-01 20:18:22-04

MESA, AZ — A brawl between a student and a school bus driver in Mesa -- all captured on video.

It happened on Wednesday, October 30, when sixth-grader Mario Campa says the bus driver told him that his phone was too loud. However, when the bus driver approached Mario about the phone in his seat, he says the driver got in his face and began to shake him.

"He took my phone out of my hand, and he just started shaking me and pushing me on the seat," said Campa.

Adding that other students were screaming and he didn't know what to do, so he hit the bus driver feeling he was in danger.

"I didn't know what to do. Like if a guy's on top of me, then you don't really know what he's gonna do next?" said Campa.

Washington Elementary Principal Susan Jenni sent a recorded phone message to parents of students that were on that bus route Wednesday night:

"Hello parents of students on the Green Bus Route 236 this is your principal Susan Jenni, We are aware of an incident on the bus ride home today that resulted in the student physically assaulting the driver, Mesa police are investigating. Our school counselor will be available tomorrow if you feel your child would benefit from spending additional time talking with someone. Student safety is always a top priority, including on our buses, please take this opportunity to remind your children that bus rules are in place to protect them, thank you for supporting Washington Elementary."

Mario's mother, Jamie Bottjer, was livid after she watched the video.

"I was outraged. I mean, I think I've probably watched it over a hundred times since seeing it the first time I just can't stop watching it, just makes me really angry," said Bottjer.

Former Mesa school bus driver Chaistain Harper says under no circumstances should a driver ever put their hands on a child.

"It's not an issue with under training, it's just an issue with the driver themselves," he said.

He says if a driver is having a hard time de-escalating a situation, they are trained to get authorities involved.

"We're trained to call an officer, call dispatch. Let them know the situation and try to get an officer involved," Harper said.

Mesa police confirmed they are investigating this incident but have not released further details.

Mesa Unified School District provided the following statement:

"The driver pulled over due to student behavior that was compromising the safety of the bus route. After approaching the students involved, the driver attempted to confiscate a student’s phone so he could safely continue the route. At this point, the situation escalated. Mesa Police and district security responded, and we are awaiting the outcome of the investigation. The driver is on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The bus was not equipped with cameras."