An Oakland teenager is back home and speaking publicly tonight for the first time after being set on fire while sleeping on an AC Transit bus. NBC Bay Area’s Jodi Hernandez reports.
An "agender" teen who was burned on an AC Transit bus returned home Wednesday, while the teen who allegedly set Sasha Fleischman's skirt on fire is hoping to be tried as a juvenile in court.
Sasha's father, Karl Fleischman, told NBC Bay Area that his teen would be home from St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco by Wednesday -- just in time for a vegan Thanksgiving and that is just what happened.
"Sasha's really excited to be at home and just walked up the stairs and walked into their bedroom where they are happily resting right now," Karl Fleischman said.
Sasha suffered second- and third-degree burns after the teen's skirt was set on fire Nov. 4 on bus No. 57. If Sasha feels up to it, the 18-year-old could be back to school at Maybeck High School in Berkeley by Monday, his dad said.
Sasha identifies as "agender," or non-binary gender, meaning that the teen doesn't identify as either a male or a female and prefers the plural pronoun "they" when being referred to.
Sasha's parents say they're thrilled the teen home is home for the holiday and say the attack won't deter Sasha from being Sasha.
"Sasha told us exactly what skirt they wanted to wear on the way home and I don't think this changes anything about the way Sasha is going to express themself,"Ken Fleischman said.
Sasha hasn't really wanted to talk about the burns or what happened, the teen's father said. "It's not something Sasha's wanted to dwell on."
Oakland mayor Jean Quan expressed her support for Sasha in a tweet Wednesday, saying, "Delighted to hear Sasha Fleischman is home from hospital. Wonderful news to help Oakland share a happy Thanksgiving."
The Fleischman family has been very forgiving about the Nov. 7 charges against Richard Thomas, a 16-year-old Oakland High School Student, charged as an adult with the fire and added hate-crime enhancement. An Oakland police officer wrote that Richard acknowledged he was "homophobic" in a report, a dispute his attorney vigorously denies. Thomas's attorney, William Du Bois, filed a motion in court on Tuesday seeking that his client be tried as a juvenile.
If it were up to the Fleischman family, who feel more forgiving of Richard, they would want him tried as a juvenile, too.
"I think we're of the opinion that a 16-year-old is still a juvenile and shouldn't be tried in adult court," Fleischman said. "I was a 16-year-old once and I know I wasn't fully formed. We've talked to Sasha about that too and Sasha has said to us that they don't feel a 16-year-old should be tried as an adult."