DA drops felony battery charge against East Hall High student wrongly accused of kicking teacher during fight

Mar. 29—The District Attorney said Wednesday that his office will drop the felony battery charge against an East Hall High School student who was wrongly accused of kicking a teacher in the face during a fight with another student.

Jhonny David Mendez, 18, was charged March 10 with felony battery and misdemeanor affray. He was arrested and released on a $3,500 bond after spending about 10 hours in jail.

The affray charge for public fighting is sticking for now, District Attorney Lee Darragh told The Times over text. He said he will now transfer the case to the Hall County Solicitor’s Office, which handles misdemeanors.

Last week, East Hall High Principal Jeff Cooper met with Darragh and asked him to drop Mendez’s charges after The Times published a video showing that it was the other student, not Mendez, who kicked teacher Heather Hawkins in the face during a fight.

The other student was also charged, though his name hasn’t been provided because he’s a juvenile. Cooper said he was charged with misdemeanor battery and affray.

On Tuesday, a judge ruled that Mendez can return to school after waiving the conditions of his bond, which had barred him from returning to campus.

Mendez has missed about two weeks of school.

“I’m excited (to return to school),” Mendez told The Times in court on Tuesday. “But I’m also scared that people might judge me for something.”

Mendez and his mother Mireyna could not be reached for comment for this story.

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