Social media users are speaking out after a North Carolina man who pleaded guilty to punching an 11-year-old Black girl in the face wasn’t sentenced to any jail time.
David Steven Bell, 51, of Black Mountain, is required to attend a racial justice workshop as part of a sentence that includes one 60-day suspended sentence and unsupervised probation for 12 months, according to Newsweek.
Bell last appeared in court August 23, the news magazine reported.
The sentencing hearing stems from an incident outside a mall in Asheville back in January.
Bell, who is 6 feet 5 and weighs 250 pounds, was seen in now viral video of the incident pushing the child then knocking her to the ground with a single punch when she stepped up to face him.
He was surround by other teens.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!,” a girl filming the incident can be heard screaming in the video as teens scattered.
Many criticized Bell’s actions as inexcusable and the subsequent punishment as unfair.
Bishop Talbert Swan, pastor at the Spring of Hope Church of God in Christ in Massachusetts, asked on Twitter Friday:
“WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO ME IF I PUNCHED OUT AN 11 YR OLD WHITE GIRL?”
“The sentencing judge needs to have every decision involving children, girls, or POC reviewed,” Twitter user @ladiesbane said Saturday.
“He will kill the next one,” Twitter user @ChampagneBlvd20 said Friday.
Bell’s now-deleted social media profiles showed he is married with two children and works as a piano teacher, according to the internet media company Heavy.
Andy Banzhoff, Bell’s attorney, told the Asheville Citizen-Times in January that his client was undergoing treatment for a traumatic brain injury and has PTSD.
“His actions were in an effort to defend himself against the perceived threat from a large pack of youth who had trapped and surrounded him,” Banzhoff said.
Bell will receive credit for the two days of time he served to go against the suspended sentence, Newsweek reported.
He also has to participate in anger management counseling and community service and pay court costs.