A former security guard at Oakland High School was placed on five years' felony probation Monday for his conviction for last year's attack on a student who suffers from cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
Marchell Mitchell, 25, could have faced up to four years in state prison for his actions in a confrontation with student Francisco Martinez, who is now 18, at the high school at 1023 MacArthur Blvd. on May 19, 2014.
But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stuart Hing said he agrees with reports by probation and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials who said probation is the appropriate sentence for Mitchell because he doesn't have a prior criminal record.
Mitchell has been in custody at San Quentin State Prison since he was convicted on July 21 but he'll be released tonight.
Jurors convicted Mitchell of a felony charge of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and a misdemeanor battery charge, but acquitted him of three other felony counts: two counts of inflicting corporal injury on a child and another assault count.
Martinez, who was born with cerebral palsy, testified during Mitchell's trial that the security guard dumped him out of his wheelchair and punched him four times while he was handcuffed.
But Mitchell testified that he believes he was justified in using force against Martinez because the student was actively resisting him and threatened to kill him.
Mitchell alleged that Martinez is a gang member who was one of the most unruly students at the school and disobeyed orders to go to class during the incident, which was captured on video.
Mitchell's lawyer, Nabiel Ahmed, argued that Oakland Unified School District officials failed to properly train Mitchell and other security guards and said Mitchell "was put in a situation where he was forced to deal with disobedient and defiant students" on a regular basis.
Martinez filed a lawsuit against Mitchell, who was fired after the incident, and the school district alleging that he was the victim of excessive force.
The school district agreed to pay $550,000 to Martinez this summer to settle the lawsuit.
Before he was sentenced today, Mitchell, dressed in a blue prison uniform, said, "This chapter of my life has been a life-changing event and I will teach my children that your actions speak loud."
Martinez didn't attend the hearing but Mitchell said, "I want to ask Mr. Martinez to forgive me for my actions and any grievances he and his family have."
He said, "I never wanted to commit a crime or hurt anyone, but actions speak loud."
Mitchell said he wanted to be placed on probation, instead of being sent to state prison, "so I can return to my two daughters and my career in the physical fitness industry."
Ahmed said Mitchell played football at McClymonds High School in Oakland and in college.
As a term of Mitchell's probation, Hing ordered him to complete 26 sessions of anger management, or an equivalent time of community service, and not to work with children while he's on probation.
Prosecutor Gemma Daggs said she was pleased with the sentencing because she thinks it provides justice for Martinez even though Mitchell was placed on probation.
Ahmed said Mitchell "has learned that he is accountable for his actions."
He also said he's hopeful that Mitchell's felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor if he successfully completes his probation.