James Peace said he was defending his 12-year-old stepdaughter when he got out of his car and confronted the boy who was bullying her at school, according to a complaint from police in Deer Park, Texas.
But when he slapped the boy across the face, police say, the incident escalated from defense of a loved one to a crime.
Deer Park police charged Peace, 37, with injury to a child under 15, a felony. He was arrested Monday evening after the Valentine’s Day confrontation, then released on $15,000 bond, according to jail records.
Peace was driving his stepdaughter home from school on Feb. 14 when he saw two boys who were walking home along Santa Fe Trail — one of whom was the alleged bully, according to the police complaint.
“On the drive home, (Peace and his stepdaughter) happened to see the suspect juvenile walking and that’s when the stepdad decided to stop and confront the kid,” Deer Park Police Lt. Chris Brown told KTRK.
Police say the two boys stood stunned and silent as Peace yelled at the alleged bully — while his stepdaughter waited in the car.
“He struck [the boy] on the left side of his face with an open right palm,” the complaint reads. “And then the man stated that if [the boy] tells anyone else what happened, he will beat them up too.”
Police say they have video from a nearby home surveillance camera that caught both the confrontation and the slap. That video has not been released by Deer Park police.
A witness says she saw Peace “reach back and strike the boy in the face, and that the boy just stood there in shock and never retaliated,” according to the police complaint.
The girl’s mother, who asked that her name not be revealed, said the boy bullied the 12-year-old girl at school by telling her “that her body was ugly,” KTRK reported. The woman also accused the boy of saying “that she was a transvestite” — and also that he “started throwing ice cream at her,” according to KTRK.
On Feb. 15, the day after the alleged confrontation, the boy told a teacher he was afraid to go to lunch, according to KHOU. That’s how school counselors and the school resource officer first found out about the case, the outlet reported.
Peace was convicted in Oct. 2018 of felony drug possession in Harris County, stemming from a 2016 arrest, according to court records. He’s also been convicted of theft there twice, records say.