Teacher knocks middle schooler’s tooth out during basketball game, Florida cops say

The athletic director of a Florida middle school is accused of elbowing a 12-year-old student in the face during a basketball game when he became angry at the student, knocking out a tooth, police said.

James Bellamy, the athletic director and physical education teacher at Putnam Academy of Arts and Sciences, was playing basketball with students on Dec. 4 when the middle schooler hit him during the game, according to a Dec. 5 news release from the Palatka Police Department.

Bellamy believed the student hit him intentionally, the student told police, and he became angry at the student.

“The child told officers Bellamy called him back out onto the court and then threw the (basketball) at him, but he was able to duck and not get hit by it,” police said.

The student started playing the game again with the teacher and Bellamy elbowed the student in the face, causing a tooth to be knocked out, police said.

The student’s mother was taking a video of her son playing at the time and showed the video of Bellamy hitting her son to police, according to the release.

When questioned by officers, Bellamy said the student had hit him so he threw the ball at him, but he said hitting the boy in the face with his elbow was not intentional, police said.

Bellamy was arrested and charged with child abuse and battery, police said.

“Mr. Bellamy was immediately terminated and was reported to authorities,” Putnam Academy Principal Curtis D. Ellis told McClatchy News in an email. “While we cannot comment further due to student privacy laws, we want to assure the community that the safety and welfare of our students remains our top priority.”

Bellamy was still listed on the staff page of the school’s website as of Dec. 6.

Palatka is about 60 miles south of Jacksonville.

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