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No charges to be filed against Fresno Unified trustee Slatic, student, for altercation

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday that no charges will be filed against Fresno Unified School District board member Terrence Slatic or an unnamed 15-year-old related to a Jan. 11 physical altercation at Bullard High School.

Surveillance video of that incident, released to The Bee following a public-records request, shows Slatic grabbing a student’s backpack straps attempting to pull him in the opposite direction, and the student pushing Slatic away, then running away.

Investigators said in order to prosecute Slatic for the crime of battery, the prosecution must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Slatic touched the juvenile in a harmful or offensive manner, and that Slatic did not act in self-defense or in defense of someone else.

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Fresno Unified Area 7 trustee Terry Slatic watches proceedings at the FUSD school board meeting Wednesday night, Jan. 16, 2019 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

The district attorney’s news release issued late Friday afternoon goes on to say that the student’s “threat to Mr. Slatic, in conjunction with the recorded video and statements of witnesses, resulted in the legal conclusion that the prosecution would not be able to disprove that Mr. Slatic acted in self-defense.”

For the 15-year-old to be prosecuted for the crime of criminal threats, the District Attorney’s Office said, prosecutors would have to prove “that the juvenile threatened to kill or cause great bodily injury to Mr. Slatic, and that the threat caused Mr. Slatic to be in sustained fear for his safety.

“Although the juvenile threatened Mr. Slatic, there was no evidence that Mr. Slatic was in sustained fear, leading to the legal conclusion that the prosecution would not be able to prove this crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The district attorney’s office also described four “ethical considerations” prosecutors are required to follow in filing criminal charges.

“We may only file charges if: 1. There has been a complete investigation and thorough consideration of all pertinent data. 2. There is legally sufficient, admissible evidence of a corpus delicti. 3. There is legally sufficient, admissible evidence of the accused’s identity as the perpetrator of the crime. And 4. The prosecutor has considered the probability of conviction by an objective factfinder hearing the admissible evidence,” the release said.

Neither Slatic nor the attorney for the minor, Roger Bonakdar, returned calls requesting comment.

Fresno Unified spokeswoman Amy Idsvoog said the district has also completed its internal investigation. The report was presented to district board members during closed session at Wednesday night’s meeting. Idsvoog said she could not share any additional information until all board members have a chance to read the report in the next week.

Staff writer Aleksandra Appleton contributed to this report.
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Carmen George is a features and news reporter for The Fresno Bee. Her stories have been recognized with Best of the West, George F. Gruner, and McClatchy President’s awards, and nine first or second place awards from the California News Publishers Association. She has a passion for sharing people’s stories to highlight issues and promote greater understanding.
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