CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. -- The mother of a 12-year-old child who was punched in the face by an adult is wondering why the man was not arrested.
“He was screaming at us, cursing at us, calling us the 'n-word' and he came down to the middle of his yard, and I was like 'who are you talking too,' and he said 'come within arm's reach and I'll show you who I'm talking to,'" said Malikai Villatte, 12-year-old who was punched.
A picture of Malikai after the incident showed his two front teeth were knocked out. The young boy also received stitches to heal a gash on his mouth.
“When I realized my teeth were dangling in my mouth it was kind of shocking, I didn't know what was going on," said Malikai Villatte.
“It was like a nightmare, I just knew I had to get there and I had to get there fast," said Brittany Graham.
His parents are upset because the man who punched Malikai was not arrested. 13 year-old Lataevion Graham, says he witnessed the incident and claims Cerfalo spat on them after punching Malikai. Graham's father says he wants justice for the children.
“Where it is okay for an adult to take the law into their own hands, and to strike a kid hard enough to knock out his teeth. Where is that acceptable, in what country is that acceptable," Larry Graham.
According to a Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office incident report, the man who punched Malikai was 27-year-old Vincent Cerfalo.
“Originally this is where the altercation took place, right here," said Cerfalo.
He spoke to Four In Your Corner to tell his side of the story.
“I told them to back off and if they come on my property I'm going to defend myself. They said, 'you won't hit us, you won't hit us,' and they started to surround me," said Cerfalo.
He says it all started when he yelled at the kids to get out of the road because they were blocking traffic.
A cellphone video captured the moments after Malikai was punched.vCerfalo claims he was acting in self defense.
“He touched me and I lifted my hand out, and I ended up hitting him. It was not my intention to hit anybody that hard, it was not my intention to knock teeth out or do harm, or cause any kind of trouble.”
The children say no one touched Cerfalo at any time during the incident. Cerfalo says he never expected things to escalate to violence. He now plans to press charges against 12 year-old Malikai for assault, which the child’s parents can’t understand.
“He's not going to jail, nothing is happening to him and he's basically getting away with it right now," Malikai.
“I want the man in jail," said Brittany Graham, Malikai's mother.
The case has been sent to the State Attorney’s Office who will determine if a summons will be issued to Malikai for assault.
UPDATE (9/22): After the family of the 12 year old spoke out about what happened, the Charlotte County sheriff released the following statement:
In light of the significant attention garnered by the incident that occurred on Wednesday, September 20 involving an adult and group of juveniles, I feel it is appropriate to provide concerned members of our community with some follow-up information that was not included in reports by the media.
The investigation of the incident included statements of multiple witness, many of whom were present and had varying levels of involvement in the altercation. The deputies on scene determined one of the juveniles involved was responsible for the altercation. Due to conflicting witness statements, it was determined the best course of action was to send the complete report to the State Attorney’s Office for review. The reporting deputy further requested the State Attorney approve a summons request for one of the juveniles on a charge of assault.
I am certain the deputies on scene investigated this incident in good faith the night it occurred. My goal as your Sheriff is that the community shares the same certainty. As such, I have directed members of our Investigations Division to review the evidence and statements obtained in this case and to work with the State Attorney’s Office directly to examine all aspects of the incident. As such, they will evaluate any additional applicable charges against the individuals involved.
Your trust in the Sheriff’s Office is paramount to our partnership in keeping this community safe. I ask that you provide my investigators the time to thoroughly review this incident. We will share updates on this review as soon as there is new information to release." - Bill Prummell