After a three-month investigation, prosecutors Thursday announced they would not file charges against a Santa Rosa mother accused of grabbing the throat of a 12-year-old boy she suspected of bullying her daughter on an elementary school campus.
Delia Garcia-Bratcher, 30, expressed relief after Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Brockley announced that he could not proceed despite interviews with about 25 people and numerous court delays.
“I’m just happy it’s all over,” said the mother of six as she stood outside the Santa Rosa courtroom. “I was just really scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Garcia-Bratcher criticized school officials and investigators for rushing to judgment. And she accused authorities of being more aggressive because she said the boy was the son of a correctional officer.
“I feel like they wanted to take me down for no reason,” she said. “I knew I was innocent.”
Brockley would not confirm the child was related to a jail guard but he denied that Garcia-Bratcher was treated differently. He said the investigation took longer because students were away on summer vacation.
“A 12-year-old kid alleged he was assaulted on school grounds,” he said. “Of course we are going to take that seriously.”
Garcia-Bratcher was arrested after the May 16 incident at Olivet Charter Elementary School in northwest Santa Rosa.
She initially was accused of grabbing the boy while confronting him about name-calling. Police said the boy then ran to school officials, who photographed red marks on his neck.
Garcia-Bratcher was arrested the next day. She has been free on $30,000 bail.
She maintained she never touched the boy but merely talked to him about verbally abusing her third-grade daughter.
She said the boy was spotted making the marks on his neck himself.
“I don’t know why he did something like that or what was going on in his head,” she said Thursday.
A private investigation conducted by her attorney, Ben Adams, corroborated Garcia- Bratcher’s account. The school district’s own investigation questioned her attorney’s findings.
The prosecutor on Thursday said there was corroboration on both sides. After reviewing the evidence, he said his office would not file charges.
“We are unable to proceed,” Brockley told Judge Dana Simonds, who discharged Garcia- Bratcher from further appearances.
Superintendent Jennie Snyder did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.
The case garnered national attention in an age of heightened concern about school violence and bullying.
Many accused Garcia-Bratcher of going too far in responding to suspected bullying while others commended her for protecting her child. Her lawyer described her as a “folk hero” to parents everywhere who are concerned about school safety.
Garcia-Bratcher said the ordeal left her feeling sick and depressed. She was prevented from going on campus in the last weeks of school and transferred her children to another district.
Though she professed her innocence from the beginning, she said she was still surprised that no charges were filed against her.
“I couldn’t sleep at night,” she said. “It took its toll on me.”
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ppayne.