Police in Port Charlotte, Florida have promised to review witness statements and other evidence after the punching of a 12-year-old child by an adult failed to result in an arrest. Photos of Malikai Villatte, who was treated for a "gash" on his mouth, show two missing teeth. The adult in the incident has been identified as 27-year-old Vincent Cerfalo, Fox4Now reported last week.
According to Villatte, Cerfalo called him and other children the n-word. "I was like, 'Who are you talking to?' and he said, 'Come within arm's reach and I'll show you who I'm talking to,'" Villatte said. Following the punch, one witness said, Cerfalo "spat on" the other children. "When I realized my teeth were dangling in my mouth, it was kind of shocking," Villatte recalled. "I didn't know what was going on."
Cerfalo, in an interview with Fox4Now, claimed his actions against a child were in self-defense. "He touched me and I lifted my hand out, and I ended up hitting him," he claimed. "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."
In a lengthy statement issued after photos of Villatte's injuries started being widely shared, Charlotte County sheriff Bill Prummell confirmed the State Attorney's Office was now involved. "The reporting deputy further requested the State Attorney approve a summons request for one of the juveniles on a charge of assault," Prummel's statement said, in part. "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."
Though Prummel's statement didn't include names or other specific references, Villatte's family has pushed back against Cerfalo's apparent attempt at bringing an assault charge against a child by calling for his arrest. "I want the man in jail," Brittany Graham, Villatte's mother, told reporters.