Charles Wyscaver, a 60-year old white male from Pensacola, Florida who was seen on camera punching a 14-year old mentally disabled Black girl in her face, was initially arrested and charged with Child Abuse. Those charges were later dropped, but now the case is being re-opened. Vin Durant, President of the NAACP Pensacola Branch, says that he has been contacted by Bill Eddins, Florida’s State Attorney of the 1st Judicial Circuit, and advised that the case will be re-investigated by a new investigator and state attorney.
Last week, Durant had issued a statement to the media, saying: “We are outraged and disturbed by the racially charged activities which involved a man who punched a 14-year-old mentally disabled black child. The NAACP is publicly calling on the state attorney’s office, Escambia county school district, and local law enforcement to reconsider and have a backbone in this case. It’s a shame in 2020, we are still fighting against hate, racism, and discrimination here in Escambia County and the panhandle.”
According to reports, Wyscaver was arrested in February 2020 for Child Abuse/Cruelty after Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Parente responded to the Silver Lake Mobile Home Park located at 7333 Pine Forest Road, Pensacola Florida, in reference to a disturbance.
Upon arrival, he made contact with the victim’s grandmother who reported under oath that her granddaughter got into a physical altercation with Wyscaver’s daughter at the Escambia County School District’s bus stop, at which time instead of breaking up the altercation between the two juveniles like another adult on the scene did, he armed himself with keys between his fisted fingers and punched her 14-year old granddaughter in the face.
On the original date of the incident, the grandmother called the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to report the incident and a white male deputy responded but did not arrest Wyscaver, nor did he issue a warrant for his arrest. Wyscaver wasn’t arrested until 20 days later after the grandmother produced a detailed videotape of the incident.
After Deputy Parente reviewed the video he noted in the arrest report that he observed Wyscaver trying to instigate a fight between the two juveniles. He also noted that Wyscaver made several aggressive movements towards the juvenile and at one point bumping his shoulder against hers. Deputy Parente placed in his report that he observed from the video that the two girls were separated then Wyscaver swung his right arm with his right fist balled up, which held a car key sticking out between his two fingers, towards the juvenile connecting to her forehead causing the car key to scratch her forehead.
Deputy Parente initiated an affidavit for Wyscaver’s arrest, the report was approved by Deputy Supervisor Jeremy Southerland and later signed by a judge. The video was turned in as evidence.
The grandmother later called Assistant State Attorney (ASA) Joe Schiller to follow up on the progression of the case, only to learn that he and his colleagues made the decision to drop the charges against Wyscaver without even notifying her. The grandmother questioned their actions and ASA Joe Schiller told her that Wyscaver only had an old Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge on his criminal record and he didn’t want to tarnish his criminal record with a felony charge. This was later determined to be false. Wyscaver has two prior DUIs on his record with the 2003 DUI being noted as his second DUI offense which he was found guilty of, and in 2002 he was arrested for Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon in which charges were dropped in that case as well.
A local attorney and the NAACP Pensacola Branch got involved and met with two investigators from the state attorney’s office, one who was the chief investigator for the office. The investigators stated that they did not see Wyscaver hit the 14-year old black mentally disabled female on the video, but they saw Wyscaver defending his daughter and that’s why the state attorney’s office did not pursue the case and the case was dropped.
The state attorney’s investigators added that they conducted an investigation and determined that they weren’t pursuing charges because a jury wouldn’t find Wyscaver guilty, so it was best to throw the charges out. They stated that they did not need to contact Deputy Parente who filed the charges. The NAACP Representatives and the Attorney later learned that the investigators never conducted an investigation. They never questioned any witnesses, including an Escambia County School District Bus Driver who did witness the incident, but never intervened, nor called the police, nor reported the incident.
There were multiple deputies involved in this case, as well as at least two victim’s advocates, two investigators from the state attorney’s office, a school bus driver, and an assistant state attorney who are all “MANDATED REPORTERS” as outlined by Florida Statute 39.201 (10)9 and 415.1034 (9)5, and “NO ONE” even reported this case to the Florida Abuse Hotline, nor did any Victim Advocates from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, nor did the Assistant State Attorney’s Office reach out to the victim to offer any assistance as outlined in their job descriptions. If this case was reported to the Department of Children and Families (DCF), it would’ve allowed DCF to launch its own independent investigation.
The victim in this case is mentally disabled. This event has caused a great deal of unbearable stress which has led her to attempt to commit suicide and have nightmares. It is believed the decision made in this case is a result of racial bias whether implicit or explicit. The Pensacola NAACP and the victim’s attorney are demanding answers from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, the Escambia County School District and the Assistant State Attorney’s Office.