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After video that showed him restraining a student, Panther Creek assistant principal shares his version of what happened

More details are emerging months after an assistant principal at Panther Creek High School was seen putting his knee on a student's neck at school. Cary police said no criminal charges are pending. The SRO involved is continuing to serve at Panther Creek High School.

Posted Updated

Adam Owens
, WRAL reporter
CARY, N.C. — An assistant principal at Panther Creek High School seen putting his knee on a student's neck at the school is getting his side of the story out.

Hart Miles, the attorney representing Jonathan Chang, told WRAL News that his client helped an officer who was struggling to restrain a student and in clear need of assistance.

Video of the incident, captured by a student, drew emotional reactions from students and parents. It shows a man, later identified as Chang, appearing to place a knee on a student's neck during the lunchtime altercation. Days later, Panther Creek Principal Dr. Greg Decker called the actions in the video "deeply concerning."

Wake County Public Schools System said school surveillance video of the altercation will not be made public.

Months later, Chang says it's hard for him to talk about what happened, but he wanted to share his side of the story.

Miles said it didn’t look good initially.

"My reaction was that the optics were bad given what we have had in the media with excessive force cases with police,” Miles said.

Some drew comparisons to the George Floyd case. When the video first surfaced, the North Carolina Association of Educators told WRAL News that the actions were unacceptable and said no training recommended restraining a student this way.

Miles says the 24-second cell phone video only depicts one angle and one side of the story. He says school surveillance camera angles he has seen also caught what happened.

“His knee was on the upper back," Miles said. "It was near the neck, but not directly on the neck.”

And then there is what led up to that cell phone video. Miles says the student on the ground wanted to fight another student and Chang jumped in to help the officer.

“The student will not calm down, the student pushes or assaults the officer on two different occasions by shoving him hard twice,” Miles said.

Cary police said their investigation is now complete and no criminal charges are pending or anticipated against Chang. The Student Resource Officer in the video also continues to work at Panther Creek.

Wake County Public Schools System said state law prohibits them from sharing what they found. Chang still works for WCPSS in their administrative office. He was not demoted nor was his pay reduced.

Chang’s attorney says he would rather be back with his students.

Neither the student, Chang nor the officer was injured. Chang’s contract with Wake County Schools ends in two years, and he has not decided what he will do next. WRAL News reached out to the North Carolina Association of Educators for a possible update to their position, but they did not have a response on Wednesday.


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