A 39-year-old bus aide faces an assault charge for allegedly breaking the arm of a 5-year-old developmentally disabled student while riding on a school bus on Long Island this week.
Police say Richard Mason, an aide for Acme Bus Corp., grabbed the arm of the boy in an effort to discipline him as the bus they were on drove through Commack Monday afternoon.
He twisted the boy's arm behind his back, fracturing the bone.
The bus company said in a statement Mason was trying to stop a fight between two boys who were violently hitting and kicking each other.
After the boys were separated, "one of the boys began to pound the bus window with extreme force. Mr. Mason said that he then interceded to stop the boy from breaking the glass and injuring himself. According to Mr. Mason, the boy then began to complain about pain in his right arm."
Mason was arrested Wednesday and charged with assault and acting in a manner to injure a child. He did not speak to reporters after he was released without bail Thursday following his arraignment.
The boy's mother angrily said Mason "has no heart."
"I mean, to hurt anybody, to me is just something that I don't understand or comprehend, but to hurt a child with special needs brings it to a whole new level," said Desiree Johnston Shirangi.
Mason is being represented by Legal Aid, which does not comment on pending cases.
His brother Don Marcial told NBC 4 New York he is not a violent man.
"He's not that type of person to inflict any harm on anyone," said Marcial. "He doesn't like violence at all, and it's not in his character to hurt a kid."
The students on the bus were from North Ridge Elementary School.
The school district said it made sure Mason had been pulled off all district routes once it learned of the allegations, and said he would have no contact with its students.
School officials also said the bus company that employed him, Acme Bus Corp., had assured the district that Mason had been properly screened, trained and had no prior problems on the job.
Marc Santia contributed to this report.