11:34 PM EST, February 16, 2012
Lawrence Township Schools has fired a football coach and instructional assistant after he allegedly choked a student inside the school.
Lawrence Police are also investigating the incident in which the coach, Desmoin Cooksey, allegedly put an 18 year old student in a headlock so that he couldn’t breathe. They have not made any arrests at this time.
The alleged victim told Fox 59 News that he and two other students were called to meet with Cooksey before school last Friday. The coach reportedly wanted to discuss an alleged rumor he believed the boys had been spreading about he and a female student. The alleged victim says he denied starting the rumor but he says Cooksey soon talked about wanting to make an example out of one of them. The alleged victim says Cooksey then put him in a headlock.
"He came from behind," the alleged victim said. "And the next thing I know, I got choked up. I got pulled off the table."
As he spoke to Fox 59 News, the 18 year old Lawrence Central student pointed out several broken blood vessels in his eyes, which he said were the result of the incident.
"I was about to pass out," the alleged victim said. "Like I had literally like five more seconds of breath left in me."
"I took my son to the doctor," said Nichole Irwin, the mother of the alleged victim. "They said the only way that that blood could have burst in his eyes. His oxygen was cut off and it has to be from severe strangulation. (Cooksey) was choking my son so hard that he could not breath and they had to literally try to pry his arm from by son's neck."
Desmoin Cooksey served as an instructional assistant at Lawrence Central but the victim says he and his friends knew him best as a football coach and mentor who had offered to help them find a path into college.
"I had the most respect out of the whole school for him," the alleged victim said of Cooksey.
"It hurts because this is someone that we all know, that we've all respected," Irwin said. "But it still doesn't justify why it came to the extreme that you almost took one of my kids life."
Irwin reported the incident to Lawrence Township Schools on Monday. On Thursday the schools released the following statement:
"An incident that occurred on Friday, February 10 was reported to Lawrence Central High School administration on Monday, February 13. The incident involved inappropriate conversations and actions by an instructional assistant toward three students. The situation was immediately investigated by Lawrence Central administrators and public safety authorities. The administration took swift and just action and the administrative assistant was put on leave pending further investigation of the incident. The results of the investigation confirmed the allegations and the instructional assistant was immediately terminated from employment. It is the priority of the Lawrence Township schools to ensure the safety and security of all students."
"I don't understand how something like this, this severe, can happen in a school and nobody knows about it," Irwin said.