School district settles with student shot on high school campus

School district settles with student shot on high school campus
Jalen Russell (Source: Department of Corrections)
Jalen Russell (Source: Department of Corrections)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The attorney for 18-year-old Bernard Miller, who was shot in 2014 at Albemarle High School by another student, says they have settled a lawsuit against Stanly County Schools.

Attorney Ken Harris would not provide the settlement amount or terms, but stressed the amount was significant and that the lawsuit led to positive discussions about school safety.

Police say 16-year-old Jalen Russell shot Miller twice, dropped the gun, and went inside the school to surrender weeks after school started in 2014. Officials said the two had a confrontation prior to the shooting.

Harris said part of their case included gathering evidence about how much the school district knew regarding Russell's violent past and how the district assessed whether Russell should be part of the general student population.

"The school system did not acknowledge any negligence as part of the settlement, that's key to note," said Harris.

When asked about safety precautions like metal detectors, a school resource officer, and communications about student transfers, Harris said, "All of it would have been part of our particular argument in this trial; from the safety resource officer, to the metal detector, to questions regarding diligence of the school system in vetting Jalen."

Russell was charged a year prior with stabbing another student at West Montgomery High School in another county. He eventually transferred to Albemarle High School.

"This was a very serious incident in Montgomery County. It was a stabbing of another student, allegedly. He's in another school system less than a year later," said Harris before the lawsuit was filed.

Harris said Miller is still engaged in rehabilitation and recovery.

Supporters of Russell said he was bullied and threatened before the shooting. He was convicted in October of last year and could serve nearly seven years in prison. He was charged as an adult when the shooting happened. Russell was 15-years-old at the time.

Harris is hopeful for both young men and says the tragedy affected them both. He said his client has been through a horrific situation and is still learning and growing.

"Bernard is one of the most resilient clients I ever had. He suffered profound injuries as a result of this incident," said Harris.

WBTV has reached out and is waiting for a response from the Stanly County Schools' Superintendent, School Board members, and the District's attorney.


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