Since Riley, 64, was arrested Friday, students and members of the community have come forward in support of the music teacher at Maywood Academy High School.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the incident took place after a 14-year-old student threw a basketball at the teacher and shouted racial slurs. Riley, who is black, asked the student to leave several times before punching him in the face.
“We all may have mixed feelings about what happened,” writes Cecilia Diaz Jimenez, a former staffer at Maywood Academy who created the GoFundMe. “But please do know that this is not the first time that Mr. Riley is attacked; physically or verbally. He is a great person and a great teacher.”
The altercation, which was captured on phones, shows the student swearing at the teacher. Here’s a description from the Times:
“What’s up, bro?” the student says as he stands close and throws the basketball at Riley.
“Why you wisecracking, my … ?” he asks.
It reportedly began after Riley told the student he wasn’t wearing the correct uniform. At first, Riley walked away from the insults, but then turned around and began assaulting the student, who was later taken to a hospital and treated for moderate injuries.
Riley was arrested, and later released on $50,000 bail. He will be arraigned Nov. 30.
Both the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau and the Los Angeles Unified School District are investigating the incident. “We take this matter very seriously and do not condone violence or intolerance of any kind,” the school district’s statement read. “Los Angeles Unified is cooperating with law enforcement in investigating this incident.”
But several students have come out in support of the music teacher. "I had this teacher before and I had no problem with him," one student told KTLA. "He was a really nice teacher, I always respected him. He always had a really good relationship with every student."
Another student claims the situation was a set up. "Everything was planned out," he said. "There were students there who were already taking out their phones to record the incident. I don't think it's completely fair that they're just putting the blame all on (Riley), when I personally know that he's a good guy."
The GoFundMe page raised more than $100,000 at the time of writing.