Petersburg Student: Teacher Did Not Encourage Fight - 8NEWS - WRIC | News Where You Live

Petersburg Student: Teacher Did Not Encourage Fight

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Petersburg, VA—One of the Petersburg High School students seen fighting in a video is speaking out, saying his teacher was not condoning or encouraging the altercation.

After a YouTube video surfaced Tuesday which appears to show a teacher allowing two male students to fight inside Petersburg High School, school officials are investigating.

11th grader Sharif Laney threw the first punch in the brawl. He tells 8News he wanted to avoid being punched.

"He [the other student] got into his fighting stance…I'm not trying to get hit first."

Sharif adds that the fight began inside his teacher, Benny Harvey's, classroom. Although Mr. Harvey is supposedly heard saying "knock him out if you want to," Sharif says Mr. Harvey did NOT encourage him and the other student to fight.

"They say he condoned the fight, but he really didn't. He was trying to stop the fight."

In the video, it sounds like the teacher can be heard saying among a group of male students, "Come on, get it on." He then stands near the group, as two unidentified male students began to pummel each other with their fists.

Sharif explains that the Mr. Harvey told the boys to take the fight outside the classroom.

"We were going to fight inside the classroom, and Mr. Harvey said ‘you're not fighting in the classroom.' I said we are going to fight in the classroom. He said ‘no you're not, take it in the hallway.'"

When asked why the teacher would send them into the hallway to fight, Sharif responded, "He sent us to the hallway because the security guard was right there."   

37 seconds into the 53-second video, a male voice can be heard shouting, "Stop, stop!" Then sources tell us the security guard breaks it up.

As the students fought, other students yelled out explicative-laced statements, and the male teacher who was present simply stood by.

The video was removed from Youtube sometime during the afternoon on Wednesday.

8News contacted the teacher in the video, Mr. Harvey, Wednesday, and he admitted to being in the video, but declined to further comment.

8News also contacted Petersburg's Commonwealth's Attorney about the case; she replied that "charges are pending" in the case, but gave no further comment.

Superintendent of Petersburg City Schools Dr. Joseph Melvin gave 8News the following statement on Wednesday: "We are aware of the YouTube video. Unfortunately we cannot comment on the matter. We are in the process of a thorough investigation. Any staff member that is involved in the video has been placed on administrative leave."

This is a developing story…stay with 8News for updates.

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