A Pittsburgh-area school police officer is under investigation after he was accused of calling a student a “gay slur” before beating him, knocking out the teen’s tooth and sending him to the hospital.
Steve Shaulis, who works at Woodland Hills High School, confronted the student in early April about a stolen cell phone and then punched him while arresting the boy, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
The teen’s attorney, Todd Hollis, says Shaulis and other school employees, including Principal Kevin Murray, have taken part in a string of abusive incidents involving students at the Pennsylvania school.
“There’s a serious cultural problem regarding the safety and protection of our children at Woodland Hills High School,” Hollis said.
Shaulis, 36, and other school officials, through their attorney, have denied any wrongdoing or pattern of excessive force.
“What Mr. Hollis has done here is take two or three isolated incidents over the course of several years in a building of 1,700 students and has managed to weave that into a conspiracy,” Woodland Hills Superintendent Alan Johnson told KDKA-TV.
Hollis and another attorney, Tim O’Brien, who is representing another student, said lawsuits are being considered against Shaulis, Murray, other staff members and the school district.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Teen Says Shaulis Threw Him Against a Wall & Then Punched Him in the Mouth While He Was on the Ground, Knocking His Tooth Out
Officer Stephen Shaulis is accused of using a gay slur before assaulting 14-year-old student Que’Chawn Wade at Woodland Hills High School on April 3, 2017, while investigating a stolen cell phone, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The attorney representing Wade, who is facing juvenile charges, made the accusations against Shaulis last month, but has now released video of part of the incident, which does not show the alleged assault, while claiming it is part of a pattern of abuse by Shaulis and school officials.
According to attorney Todd Hollis, Shaulis confronted Wade about the missing phone, asking if the teen had stolen it. When Wade tried to walk away from him, Hollis says Shaulis called him a derogatory word for homosexuals, dragged him into an office and punched him.
Shaulis is accused of punching the teen in the back of the head and then in the mouth.
“He said that he was thrown against the wall. He landed on a chair. He was then punched in the back of his head. He was placed in a prone position on the ground. He was punched in the teeth, which is where his tooth fell out,” Hollis told reporters. “How hard does a person have to hit a child to knock their teeth completely out of their mouth? What does a child have to do to justify that response?”
Wade was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital by ambulance after the incident and had his tooth sewn back into his mouth. His face was swollen and Hollis said the teen will need four more surgeries.
Superintendent Alan Johnson told the Tribune-Review in April, “I do understand that the student was injured. And that’s unfortunate. My understanding was that this was an isolated incident.”
The teen was charged with resisting arrest, simple assault, aggravated assault and making terroristic threats. The case remains pending in juvenile court. He was suspended from school and has been receiving lessons at home since the incident.
“I don’t care what happened to the cellphone,” Hollis said. “It does not justify getting his teeth knocked out of his mouth.”
2. A 2015 Video Shows Shaulis & the School’s Principal Beating & Using a Taser on a Student Before Handcuffing Him
A 2015 video, which you can watch above, shows another incident involving Officer Steve Shaulis, along with Principal Kevin Murray. It was also released to the public by attorney Todd Hollis on Tuesday. The teen in the video said he was sent to the office after defending a girl who had asked to use the bathroom, but was told she couldn’t go.
The video shows a 15-year-old student talking to Murray and another school staff member before Shaulis arrives. The student then sits down in a chair while Shaulis watches him and the two continue to talk. Shaulis eventually walks up to the student, grabs him by the arm, lifts him out of the chair and wraps his arm around the student’s neck. He drags the student down the hallway by the neck, lifts him into the air and throws him to the ground.
Murray and Shaulis then pin the student down on the ground together and Shaulis uses a Taser on the teen, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The stun gun was used three times during the March 3, 2015, incident, the newspaper reports.
The teen was charged as a juvenile with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. A judge found him guilty of disorderly conduct, but not guilty of resisting arrest after the video was shown in court, the Tribune-Review reports. Frank Ralph, the attorney for the teen, passed the video along to Hollis after reading about the April 2017 incident involving Shaulis.
“I can’t see anything there that is resisting arrest,” Ralph told the Tribune-Review. “You can see on the video, there is nothing in the least bit aggressive being done by my former client.”
Hollis said the 15-year-old was sitting down when he was picked up by Shaulis.
“And since when did a principal become involved in effectuating an arrest while a kid got Tased three times?” Hollis told the newspaper. “And if this happened to any one of your children, how would you take it? How would you respond?”
Murray was also accused earlier this school year of threatening to knock a student’s teeth down his throat. The incident was investigated and Murray was placed on leave, but no charges were filed and he returned to work in January, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. He was also recently named the head football coach for the school.
And attorney Tim O’Brien said he is representing a fourth student, who he says had criminal charges “fabricated” against her in 2015 and 2016, the newspaper reports.
“Four kids have been injured as a result of some conduct by one or more administrators at the high school,” Hollis said at a press conference.
“Too much has happened at Woodland Hills High School in the past six months for this to be ignored,” Hollis said previously.
Woodland Hills Superintendent Alan Johnson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Mr. Hollis is taking a couple of isolated incidents and turning them into a pattern that does not exist. It is not an abusive school. We are proud of the things we do.”
3. The Teen’s Attorney Challenged Shaulis to a Boxing Match, Saying He Is ‘Tired of Watching You BEAT Up on Kids’
“If any one of you want to do a charity grudge BOXING match. Get in touch. I’m tired of watching you BEAT up on kids,” Hollis said in the post.
Phil DiLucente, the attorney for Shaulis and Murray, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review his clients have not “beat” any students.
“I am disappointed by the most recent social media post made by Mr. Hollis regarding two of my clients,” he told the newspaper. “I would caution any further untruths being spoken or written in public regarding my clients, Mr. Murray or Officer Shaulis.”
Johnson, the superintendent, told the Tribune-Review, “I am deeply disappointed that Mr. Hollis has sunk to this level. He is a professional attorney representing the interests of his clients or so I would hope. This kind of chicanery is not consistent with good legal representation. It doesn’t merit any further comment.”
Hollis said he does not have any formal boxing training, but told the Tribune-Review he is ready to meet them in the ring any time.
“As it relates to Mr. DiLucente’s cautionary suggestion — his clients and their actions are a matter of video record,” Hollis told the newspaper. “The videos speak for themselves. To the extent that his clients are bothered by what the videos show is not my concern.”
4. Shaulis Works as an Officer in the Borough of Churchill & Also Owns a Firearms Training Company
Stephen Shaulis is an officer with the Churchill Borough Police Department in Allegheny County. He had been assigned to Woodland Hills High School, which includes students from Churchill, along with several other Pittsburgh-area towns.
Shaulis began working in Churchill in 2007, according to his now-deleted Linkedin profile. He previously worked as a school police officer in Pittsburgh from 2001 to 2007.
He was named in a 2013 lawsuit by a parent claimed her son, a 9th grader, was assaulted by Woodland Hills’ wrestling coach, who was also a behavioral specialist. Shaulis was accused of ignoring the assault committed by the staff member, and instead bringing criminal charges against the teen. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.
Shaulis, 36, lives in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two sons. In addition to his work as a police officer, Shaulis is the owner and CEO of a firearms training company, Ridge Runner Renegades, according to his Linkedin profile.
“We offer training to those who choose to exercise their 2nd Amendment Right!!,” Ridge Runner Renegades says on Facebook. He has owned the company since 2013. After reports about the incidents at Woodland Hills began to hit the national and international media, Shaulis’ name and email were removed from the company’s website.
“As police officers (and friends… and guys who love to shoot), we noticed a significantly large gap between those choosing to arm themselves and those seeking training. We also noticed that we were receiving countless requests for firearms tips, suggestions, and lessons from family and friends,” the company says on its website. “We’ve taken the necessary steps to combine our love of shooting with our own tactical expertise, and we have launched Ridge Runner Renegades. Whether you are interested in purchasing a firearm or you are a seasoned shooter, we promise you’ll walk away from our classes as a better and more efficient shooter.”
5. He Is Not Working at the School While an Investigation by the District Attorney & Federal Authorities Is Completed
Shaulis is still an active duty officer with the Churchill Police Department, but is not working at the school pending the outcome of an investigation into the April 2017 incident, his attorney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
His attorney told WPXI-TV that Shaulis, and principal Murray, are being made out to be something they are not.
“They’ve had good careers, respectively,” attorney Phil DiLucente told the news station. “It hurts them personally because they know they are trying to do right for the children
The investigation is being conducted by the Allegheny County District Attorney, which will share its results with the FBI.
“As we have previously stated, we are working with other agencies, both state and federal, to determine what if any crimes have been committed and which venue best addresses the issues presented,” Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, told the Post-Gazette. “The investigation is ongoing and, when appropriate, we will comment further.”