GREENFIELD — Officials with the Greenfield Police Department say they’ll never know the true reason behind why a 10-year-old Greenfield boy took his life on May 5, but they do say bullying could have been a factor.

Sammy Teusch

Greenfield Police Department (GPD) Chief of Police, Brian Hartman met the media Friday afternoon after his officers wrapped their four-week investigation into the death of Sammy K. W. Teusch. Sammy was the fourth-grade student at Greenfield Intermediate School who officials said committed suicide following prolonged bullying.

The Hancock County Coroner has completed an investigation and ruled the boy’s death was asphyxiation by strangulation, suicide. Officials with the GPD said their investigation does not warrant any criminal charges to be filed in the case. Hartman also noted officials with the Greenfield-Central Community School district were not negligent in their handling of any bullying issues surrounding Sammy.

“At the very beginning, everybody started saying this was bullying, this was a result of bullying, and I say this with a heavy heart, unfortunately, we do not know the cause of this,” Hartman said. “There was no note or no text messages. Sammy didn’t say why he felt he had to do this.”

Still, Hartman acknowledged after speaking with school officials, children and family members, the GPD investigation concluded Sammy was bullied both inside and outside of school.

“We believe he encountered some rough times at school from other kids,” Hartman said. “I do have statements and facts to back that up. There were also things that happened outside of school … There has probably been an accumulation of things having happened in this child’s life that led up to that traumatic decision he made that day.”

Hartman noted whether it’s called bullying, harassment or intimidating another, negative words can have a huge impact on people, particularly teenagers and children.

“We always say sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. That’s not true,” Hartman said. “Kids take those words very seriously.”

Hartman noted that kids these days have so much stress in their lives and no experience to deal with it.

“A lot of kids don’t feel like they have an outlet,” Hartman said. “Again, we cannot say this was a result of bullying, but we can say bullying was happening in this child’s life … We have kids in society now who can’t be kids and we, our society puts that on them.”

Patrons attend the funeral of Sammy Teusch at Brandywine Community Church. Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

Hartman noted there were incidents of bullying that occurred at school, according to their investigation, but those incidents were handled correctly by school officials.

“There was an incident in the cafeteria and on the bus, and those were incidents that happened and they were looked into by the school,” Hartman said. “In one of the incidents, I know the other child involved got a one day in school and a one day out of school suspension. These things were reported to the school and addressed.”

​Dr. Harold Olin is the Superintendent of Greenfield-Central Community Schools and released a statement Friday afternoon in reference to the GPD official report findings.

“We have reviewed GPD’s statement, whose findings are consistent with the information gleaned from Greenfield-Central’s internal investigation,” Olin said.

Olin also told the Daily Reporter their initial investigation is complete, but they are continuing to look through related student files to make sure they did not miss anything.

“Aside from directory information, student records are protected by the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA). Therefore, we cannot address many of the specific items related to this matter,” Olin said.

Olin went on to say, “Greenfield-Central takes all bullying concerns very seriously,” Olin said. “We have provided and will continue to provide a safe environment for students in our schools.”

Hartman stated while officials with the GPD looked into many aspects of the bullying situation with Sammy over the past four weeks, they did not find school officials to be negligent in their handling of the bullying surrounding the child.

“I can honestly say, I don’t feel the school was in neglect of the things that were reported to them,” Hartman said.

Hartman noted that Indiana bullying laws for school districts are enforced by the Indiana Department of Education and not law enforcement.

“A lot of people have this assumption bullying is a criminal law,” Hartman said. “It’s not a criminal law.”

However, Hartman says the definition of bullying does include, battery, harassment and intimidation and those are criminal actions that can be reported to police. Hartman is encouraging community members to call police or reach out to a school resource officer if they feel school officials are not handling a bullying situation properly.

“If people truly feel they are not safe to say what needs to be said to the school, then they need to be able to say it to us,” Hartman said.