51-year-old David Steven Bell of Black Mountain was arrested and charged by Asheville Police with assaulting a child when he first pushed her and then, after she walked back to him, slugging her in the face knocking her to the ground.

Cell phone video shows a crowd of people apparently outside the doors of a mall in Buncombe County. Bell, who looks to be at least 250 lbs and more than 6 feet tall, is one of the few adults amid a crowd of mostly teenagers. It’s hard to tell from the video the cause of the argument. At one point, Bell is pushed, although given his size and weight he barely moves.

The video then shows Bell turn and shove a young girl several feet back. She she walks back to him, Bell cocks and slugs her causing her to collapse to the ground, nearly striking a concrete post. He’s lucky he didn’t kill her.

Bell, who does not appear to have any other North Carolina criminal record, has been charged with two counts of Assault on a Female – G.S. 14-33(c)(2) and one count of Assault on a Child under the age of 12 years – G.S. 14-33(c)(3).

Assuming the girl was not seriously injured, it’s unlikely the charges would be upgraded to a felony. North Carolina’s felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury requires a bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious permanent disfigurement, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or that results in prolonged hospitalization.

Serious bodily injury, defined in State v. Rouse, can include any or all of the following, including cracked pelvic bone and broken ribs, as in State v. Williams, the loss of a tooth, as in State v. Downs, or puncture wounds leading and premature labor, as in Rouse.

If the victim did not suffer serious bodily injury and Bell is convicted of these class A1 misdemeanors, and assuming no prior criminal record, he could serve up to 180 days, or 60 days for each count.

While video is not always dispositive, the video does not show any threat to Bell that necessitated self-defense, especially because he gives the first shove that sends the girl back several feet before she walks back up to him.

In addition, Bell had ample opportunity to walk away from any disturbance but remains standing among the teenagers where he ultimately strikes the girl.

Damon Chetson - 991 posts

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.

Assaults, Child Abuse