(USA TODAY) -- A California school guard has been fired and charged with felony child abuse for slapping a handcuffed student with cerebral palsy and dumping the teen from his wheelchair when the teen spat in his face.
Marchell Mitchell, 23, pleaded not guilty to the May 19 assault in a hallway at Oakland High School, which was captured by security video. He is free on $10,000 bail and due back in court June 16. The district fired him Thursday.
Mitchell, who was hired last fall and passed a background check, is accused of attacking 17-year-old Francisco Martinez after he and another guard ordered lagging students to get to class.
In a letter to parents, Principal Matin Abdel-Qawi said Mitchell began wheeling Martinez after he either refused or didn't move quickly enough. When the teen tried to swat away Mitchell's hands he was handcuffed, and he then spit in Mitchell's face as the guard continued to push him.
Mitchell then strikes Martinez three times before pushing him to the floor.
"We consider this behavior completely unacceptable, harmful to our school and community and traumatic to our students and families," Abdel-Qawi wrote, The Oakland Tribune reported. "I'm shocked and deeply hurt by this behavior and apologize on behalf of the staff at Oakland High."
Superintendent Gary Yee, who visited Martinez at home, told the newspaper Friday that "the actions we saw in the video were really appalling and should never happen under any circumstances."
Martinez told KTVU-TV he spat at Mitchell in self-defense.
"I was handcuffed, so I didn't have no way to defend myself but my mouth," he said. "He slapped me. He hit me so hard, it threw me out of my chair."
Friday, some Oakland High students signed a petition supporting Mitchell, KTVU reported. A flyer blamed Martinez for instigating the attack.
"Spitting is a crime. You provoked this…," it read. "!!!Spit on me, get yo a— beat!!!"
Yee said Martinez was offered a transfer to another school but wants to stay at Oakland High.