Shocking video has emerged showing David Steven Bell, a 51-year-old man, punching an 11-year-old girl in the face outside of a shopping mall while a crowd of horrified kids look on. The incident, which took place on Saturday night, was captured on video by an onlooker with a smartphone camera.
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The altercation occurred outside of the Asheville Mall in North Carolina at about 7:00 pm local time, according to a report by the Daily Mail. Bell, who is 6-foot-5 and 250 lbs., can be seen arguing with a group of young girls before one of the children shoves him harmlessly.
Bell can be heard telling the children to “break it up.” Then, the girl filming the encounter asks, “Who is he?”
Just seconds later, Bell pushes the female victim, hitting her chest. After recovering from the shove, she heads toward Bell again but, as the situation grows more heated, this time, Bell punches her in the face.
The girl tumbles to the ground and appears to hit her head on the concrete.
In the video, the girl filming can be heard shouting, “Oh my god! Oh my god!” before the clip ends.
After the incident, Bell was arrested and charged with two counts of assault as well as assault of a female under the age of 12.
Bell was booked into Buncombe County Jail, though was released at about 1:00 am local time on Sunday.
According to police, the female victim declined medical treatment. The nature of her injuries has not been revealed.
Since news of the incident broke this weekend, Asheville attorney Andy Banzhoff has come to the defense of Bell. He spoke on behalf of his client, and noted that Bell saw a woman being harassed by the group of teens. Bell then stepped in to defend the woman. As the tensions escalated, he felt threatened by “large pack of youths.”
Banzhoff also noted that his client “is undergoing long-term treatment for a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.” Bell, he says, regrets resorting to violence.
“His actions were not motivated by any animus towards the persons in that group. Mr. Bell’s belief is that all persons are created equal and that we are all children of God,” the statement said.
When asked if Bell’s PTSD had any influence on how he reacted, Banzhoff declined to speculate. “All I am doing at this stage is laying out the facts as we reasonably believe them to be,” he said.
The Asheville Mall released a statement after the altercation, saying, “We are aware of the videos circulating on social media.”
“The @AshevillePolice responded immediately and the situation was diffused,” the statement continued. “An arrest has been made.”
They then instruct those with further questions to “contact the Asheville Police Department.”