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DA not filing charges against Broken Arrow bus driver arrested for kidnapping, child endangerment

Broken Arrow Police Department Logo
Posted at 10:53 AM, Oct 14, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa County DA is not charging a bus driver arrested earlier this month.

Broken Arrow police arrested a Broken Arrow Public Schools bus driver, Thomas Young, Friday for child endangerment and kidnapping. He is no longer employed with the district.

BAPD responded to a call involving a bus near E. 61st St. and Lynn Lane. Police said the driver stopped the bus but would not allow students to exit with their parents.

2 News Oklahoma obtained security footage of the incident, which shows the bus driver berating the students and demanding they stay in their seats. Young, at one point, said he did "not care" if parents had arrived on the scene to take their kids away from the bus.

Tulsa DA Steve Kunzweiler released a statement:

“Our office received a referral for prosecution following an arrest made by the Broken Arrow Police Department of a Broken Arrow School District bus driver for felony kidnapping and child abuse allegations. In addition to written reports, we watched the entirety of the incident as it was recorded by two onboard cameras. Separate cell phone camera recordings were also provided by various individuals in proximity to the incident. On two occasions a Broken Arrow School administrator got on the bus to instruct the students. 

From the information provided to this office, the facts do not fit within a traditional view of what kidnapping and child abuse contemplate under the law. This may be a civil matter in which there might be a civil remedy. This is also an employment issue upon which the Broken Arrow School District is best suited to address. We decline to file formal charges based on the available facts and the high burden of proof required for a conviction, which is beyond a reasonable doubt. We do not reasonably believe that a jury would convict nor would sentence a person to prison based upon the facts submitted to us.”

2 News texted with one parent involved: "I think there were a handful of kids antagonizing him, and I don't think they had the proper protocol in place, and I think he shouldn't have been driving the bus anyway," the parent wrote.

After multiple students left the bus through emergency exits, the bus driver moved to a parking lot, and students continued to try to leave the bus.

Broken Arrow police released this statement about the DA's decision:

The Broken Arrow Police Department has been made aware of a decision by the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office to decline charges presented on 68-year-old Thomas Young.

On the day of Mr. Young's arrest, the Broken Arrow Police Department determined there was probable cause to make an arrest, in addition to witness accounts and victim's statements.

As with any arrest, criminal charges are submitted to the District Attorney's Office for review, and ultimately their office has the discretion to file formal charges based on the burden of proof for a conviction.

The Broken Arrow Police Department values the long-standing working relationship with Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, his staff, and the Broken Arrow Public Schools Administration.

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