The physical and emotional effects of that night haven’t gone away, but the family of a teenager who was stepped on and hit in the head with a flashlight by a Richmond County Sheriff’s deputy in August received some closure this week.
The city agreed Tuesday to pay the family of 15-year-old Kyvan James $55,000 to settle all claims against the city, the sheriff’s office and former deputy Bryan McDuffie, who was fired for his actions.
Kyvan’s mother Kenya James said she wasn’t looking for financial gain from the situation but instead wanted to hold public officials accountable so something similar never happens again. She said the money is being put away for Kyvan to use for college or when he goes to work.
“My motive was never to seek financial gain,” she said. “I just know that when you pay for a lesson, it’s a lesson you never forget...and I didn’t want this swept under the rug.”
McDuffie was fired after the investigation into James’ allegations determined he used excessive force in detaining the teen. Kyvan was walking home with a friend about 11 p.m. on Aug. 3 just as deputies responded to a burglary call at a nearby residence on Leawood Court.
The three officers began chasing the teens, who ran out of fear they would be accused of a crime, James said. Kyvan stopped and turned to the deputies and when they had one of his wrists in handcuffs, McDuffie stepped on his back and hit him in the temple with his metal flashlight.
James said Kyvan, who was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was age 7, still deals with headaches from the incident.
She said she hopes to see the sheriff’s office develop policies and procedures on how to properly detain people who have neural conditions. She said after hearing details from the investigation, she thinks her son could have been having the beginnings of an epileptic seizure, which is often induced by stress.
She would also like to see more outreach from officers with teens to break this perception of fear of the badge that Kyvan and other young people share. James said her son should not have run, but he did so out of fear.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree declined a request for comment and referred questions to the department’s attorney, Randolph Frails. He said this was “a good result” for all parties involved. The settlement diverted any potential lawsuit and helped all parties come to an understanding, he said.