No charges filed, evidence of bullying found

GREENFIELD — Officials with the Greenfield Police Department (GPD) say they have finalized their investigation into the unexpected death of a local child. Officials have determined there will be no criminal charges filed with the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office in relation to the passing of Sammy K. W. Teusch, a 10 year-old boy who officials say took his own life in early May.

Nearly a month after the death of Sammy, who officials believe committed suicide following prolonged bullying, the Hancock County Coroner completed their investigation and ruled his death asphyxiation by strangulation, suicide.

Sammy K. W. Teusch

Sammy was a fourth grader at Greenfield Intermediate School who died May 5 after his family says he was bullied relentlessly at school. Officials with the GPD conducted an investigation into his death and concluded it this week.

“Through our investigation it is believed there was some bullying taking place in this child’s life,” GPD Chief of Police, Brian Hartman said in the release. “Through our investigation the child did encounter some bullying at school — school records show these incidents were addressed. It was also found that bullying was taking place outside the school and sometimes in a place where the child should have felt safest.”

Charles McMichael, deputy chief of GPD, told the Daily Reporter the GPD investigation included law enforcement talking with several children, family members and Greenfield-Central Community school officials.

“Ultimately, we treated this just like we would any other death investigation,” McMichael said. “Due to the allegations of the bullying, we talked to as many people as we could talk to, and that included school staff and personnel, other students or anyone who could give us information.”

When asked if school officials were in any way neglectful in handling any bullying associated with Sammy, McMichael said, “Not that we have found any evidence of.”

Sammy’s parents, Sam and Nichole Teusch, have blamed officials with Greenfield-Central schools for not doing enough to stop the bullying they say Sammy had endured at school and on the school bus. The family says they had contacted Greenfield Intermediate School officials 20 different times to report bullying.

McMichael noted that a school district’s definition of what bullying is can be completely different from how the term is defined by the general public.

“The state law is written, their definition of what bullying is, it’s very specific,” McMichael said. “A lot of the things that were happening with Sammy did not necessarily meet that definition.”

It’s that disconnect, McMichael said, that has led to the outrage and confusion in the community surrounding Sammy’s passing.

“Bullying, as a general term, does not exist in criminal law,” McMichael said. “There are rules for handling bullying as far as a school district’s requirements as far as what staffs have to do when it is reported and all of that, but for us to charge someone for ‘bullying’ — that doesn’t exist.”

Hartman said the passing of Sammy is a sad and devastating time for the community and that his heart goes out to the family, Sammy’s friends, the community and first responders who were on the scene the day Sammy passed.

“This is a day the family, community and first responders will never forget,” Hartman said.

Hartman also shared his views on the overall issue of bullying in the community and noted that, unfortunately, bullying is real in all walks of life.

“Bullying is an issue in our society, whether you are a child or an adult,” Hartman said. “No one is allowed to be different or have a different opinion anymore without someone somewhere being disrespectful and saying hurtful things.”

Officials with the GPD also noted in the release that if a person or their child feels they are being bullied at a Greenfield-Central school and are afraid to report it to the school, for whatever reason, to please contact a GPD School Resource Officer. That will get the issue officially recorded through what is called a CAD report, and the school resource officer will follow-up with the school administration.

“We as a community need to understand we have a problem, no matter the reason for this tragic and untimely death,” Hartman said. “We have children who feel their lives are so bad that it is not worth living. We need to come together and give these children a life worth living. Children now a days have so many stressors in their lives that they forget to be a kid.”