Hundreds of thousands of people appear to be supporting a bus driver who was caught on camera slapping a 12-year-old boy after he allegedly ran onto the road, causing the older man to sharply slam the brakes in order to avoid hitting the child.
The incident took place earlier this month in the Parisian suburbs of Arcueil in France. The bus driver said the kid insulted him after he got out of the bus.
The video, which has since gone viral on French social media, showed the driver getting out of the bus and children watching the scene laughing loudly. The man quickly crossed the street and slapped the boy in the face, leaving him visibly stunned while people around him cried out in shock.
According to local transport authority RATP, the middle-school student ran out into the street just as a bus was about to pass. Apparently, after slamming the brakes, the driver told the boy to be careful while crossing the road, but the 12-year-old allegedly responded with an insult, telling the older man to “Shut up, go on, move on.”
As reported by Le Parisien, the student said he said those words without thinking. He claimed he was running to catch the bus after school when he heard a loud horn along with an insult he assumed was aimed at him.
The incident seems to have divided the country. Whereas some are siding with the child, there are several who are raising their voice for the bus driver, who has since admitted he reacted emotionally to the insult.
Now, the child’s mother has filed a complaint against the driver, who is also facing disciplinary action by the transport authority, which has condemned the man’s behavior.
However, the bus driver’s colleagues have launched an online petition in his support, which has garnered more than 300,000 signatures within a week. Many social media users appear to believe the driver shouldn't be punished, as the kid had ran onto the street and then allegedly provoked the man.
The local mayor also acknowledged that children often run between sides of the street where the incident took place.
“Some put themselves in danger,” he said, adding “the driver's reaction was neither proportionate nor appropriate. It's a child.”
Meanwhile, the RATP investigation into the matter can last up to two months and possibly end in firing of the employee.
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