Teen says teacher lost control, slammed him to the ground; both facing charges

ATLANTA — A high school student's mother said she was shocked when her son was charged after a teacher slammed him to the ground.

Zahki Koonce, 17, said it all began at South Atlanta High School when he touched the teacher on the shoulder and said, “What's up.”

That's when he said teacher Henry Coleman lost control and violently attacked him.

“I just felt my body, my whole body, just fly into the table with books on it. He came to the table, slung me off the table to the ground,” Koonce said.

The incident happened Oct. 3 in the school library.

Koonce said he was assaulted right after he touched Coleman on the shoulder and greeted him.

Koonce said the incident was captured on the school's video surveillance system.

The school system said Coleman was charged for the attack, so it was a shock to Koonce's mother when she got a call from a resource officer.

“She's like, ‘He's being charged also.’ For what? ‘For touching the teacher,’” Koonce mother, Shekela Bryant, said.

Koonce was charged with battery for striking the teacher in an insulting or provoking nature, according to a citation.


His mother said the charge does not make any sense.

“I was very shocked,” Bryant said.

“It’s still kind of shocking to me,” Koonce said.

Koonce went to the hospital after complaining of back and shoulder pain. He told Channel 2 Action News he wants his charge dropped and a stiff punishment for Coleman.

“I don't think he should be working there around any students,” Koonce said.

Channel 2's Tom Jones put in an open records request to obtain the surveillance video.

A spokesman for the school system said Coleman is a graduation coach who has been with the district the last five years.

The spokesman said Coleman is charged with simple battery and was not arrested. He was given a citation.

Koonce said he wasn't suspended, and his attorney thinks he was charged because he wanted Coleman charged.