Ten students were suspended this week from Pittsburg High School after they posted a shocking photo of their principal Todd Whitmire putting a fellow student in a chokehold on Facebook and Instagram, KOKH-TV reports.
Whitmire claimed that the photo was taken out of context. He said that he was actually attempting to restrain a student who had slipped and fell during a fight.
“I had separated her and she began struggling and I was pushing her away to get her away from the area and she fell down,” he told the Contra Costa Times.
Whitmire says the students were suspended because the viral spread of the photo had created a dangerous situation for the student involved in the altercation.
“It was the reposting, the retweeting, and keeping it alive and assigning negative comments to it and creating a hostile environment [for the girl],” Whitmire said.
However, the teenager tells a different tale. Ashley Johnson, who is currently wearing a neck brace, claims that there was no need for the principal to restrain her and that he used way too much force.
“I wasn’t fighting back. I was lying on the ground,” Johnson told KTVU.
No charges have been brought against the principal.