WASHINGTON - There are still many questions surrounding the death of a Ballou High School special needs student.
Family members of Joevon Patterson Smith said he was often bullied at school. The 17-year-old boy died at the hospital on Monday after his family said he was attacked at school on Jan. 10.
D.C. police are investigating the teenager’s death and are awaiting autopsy results to determine the cause of death. FOX 5 has learned the medical examiner is still obtaining additional information as it carries out the autopsy.
D.C. Councilmember Trayon White said he has spoken to the family twice about the alleged attack.
“The family has a lot of versions of the story,” White said. “They say the young man was jumped, tasered, sprayed, which we are concerned about. Right now, MPD does not have full account of what happened yet. They are still doing an investigation.”
A police report from Jan. 10 reveals an attack happened after a student refused to allow other students to use his phone. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said homicide investigators are looking at security video at the school and conducting interviews.
“It's going to be complicated,” said Newsham. “Of course we are going to go over there and we are going to talk to the entire staff over there, see what they know, see what they saw or did not see, go through all the video that we have of the school and see if there was something that indicates there was some type of assault that occurred at the school.”
White also said he has spoken to D.C. Public Schools regarding the incident.
“DCPS has made a statement that they don't have anybody corroborating to say what the family is saying … so they don't have any young people and students saying that, any teachers saying that. Right now, we are at a tough place trying to get to the truth. The school claims that during that day, there is footage of the young man walking. They don't know what condition he was in, but based on what the family is saying, they are saying he was really injured real bad.”
The police chief also said that one of the challenges in this case is that some of the children they are interviewing are developmentally disabled, so they have to follow a certain procedure when they talk to those kids.