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Woodland Hills teen testified officer called him a 'punk' before rough arrest

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, May 4, 2017, 11:45 p.m.

Ahmad Williams Jr. said a school police officer called him a punk, told him he'd amount to nothing and insulted his mother.

According to a transcript of the proceedings obtained by the Tribune-Review, Williams testified in court that Churchill Police Officer Steve Shaulis told him, "You are a punk. You are not going to be nothing, so you might as well stop."

Williams was sitting in the office lobby of Woodland Hills High School on March 3, 2015.

Soon Shaulis would arrest Williams, then 15, for disorderly conduct, put him in a choke hold, slam him to the ground and shock him twice with a Taser.

After the incident, the officer added a second charge of resisting arrest.

The transcript of Williams' trial in Allegheny County Juvenile Court shows Shaulis, a resource officer at the high school, testified that he discharged the Taser twice.

Despite video evidence showing his arms around Williams' neck, Shaulis testified he did not use a choke hold. He also testified that he never insulted Williams.

At the end of the one-day trial, Judge Kathleen Mulligan, who viewed a video of the incident captured by school surveillance cameras, dismissed the resisting arrest charge. She gave Williams probation on the disorderly conduct charge and told him to contain his use of profanity.

"You can't be swearing like that," she told him. "Can't happen in school, can't happen anywhere, but particularly in a school."

The recording surfaced this week after Pittsburgh attorney Todd Hollis released it to the media, along with another involving Shaulis.

In another video from April 3, Shaulis can be seen dragging a 14-year-old high school student, Que'chawn Wade, into the office before fighting with him off camera and knocking out the teen's tooth, Hollis said.

In the 2015 incident, Williams testified a teacher sent him to the school office after he defended a girl who had asked to use the bathroom, but was told she couldn't go. He acknowledged that he became angry in the office and started swearing before Shaulis walked in. High school Principal Kevin Murray appeared on video to assist in holding Williams down during the arrest.

Williams can be seen on video sitting down in the office when Shaulis approached him.

"And he walks over to me and starts pointing in my face, and I am getting mad because he is pointing in my face and yelling at me," Williams said in court. "So he walked to the hallway, and that's when he uses insults toward me and my mom."

Shaulis testified he told Williams he was under arrest when he walked back in. Shaulis told him to stand up and put his hands behind his back.

"He just sat there and didn't move," Shaulis testified. "I grabbed his right wrist at that point. He tried to pull away from me. I was able to get him to stand up. And then I started to escort him physically down the hallway to Mr. Murray's office."

Shaulis denied under cross examination that he used a choke hold on Williams before slamming him to the ground. Attorney Frank Ralph represented the teen during trial.

Ralph turned over the tape to Hollis after learning of the April 3 incident involving Shaulis and Wade.

"Not choke hold, took him around the chest, around the shoulder and chest," Shaulis testified.

Ralph asked: "Your arm was around his neck, only. Right?"

Shaulis responded: "No, it was around his chest. By him resisting it went around his neck — but that was not my intent."

He then explained the Taser usage: "Once I placed him on the ground I operated the Taser twice."

Williams "was screaming, telling me to stop," Shaulis testified, later adding, "Mr. Murray comes down to assist to get his hands behind his back."

Shaulis is not working at the school because of an investigation into the incident, according to his attorney Phil Dilucente. Churchill police have not commented on his employment status.

Mike Manko, a district attorney spokesman, said the incidents involving Shaulis remain under investigation.

"As we have previously stated, we are working with other agencies, both state and federal, to determine what if any crimes have been committed and which venue best addresses the issues presented," he said in an email. "The investigation is ongoing and, when appropriate, we will comment further."

The release of the videos has garnered national attention with stories about the incidents appearing this week in the Washington Post, Miami Herald and New York Daily News.

Woodland Hills Schools Superintendent Alan Johnson said he has faith in the district attorney's office.

"All I want to see is that there is a fair assessment and judgment of what has taken place," he said. "Whatever results from that inquiry will be something that we will support."

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Bencschmitt.

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