The wrongful death suit filed by the parents of a special-needs student shot to death by a school resources officer soon will be heard in federal court.
On September 2nd, the parents of Trevor Varinecz filed a wrongful death suit on his behalf. The lawsuit names Horry County Schools, the Horry County Police Department, Carolina Forest High School, the South Carolina Department of Education, former CFHS resource officer Marcus Rhodes and Mary P. Fay as defendants in the case. According to court documents, the case will be open for jury selection by September of next year.
According to the official report of the shooting, Varinecz allegedly attacked officer Rhodes with a knife. The State Law Enforcement Division ruled that the student was ‘trying to force Rhodes to shoot him.’ The SLED report went on to say, “The use of deadly force in this case was not only justified, it was essential to protect the students and staff at Carolina Forest as well as the officer.”
The lawsuit makes a counter argument against this, saying that there were significant deviations made in Varinecz’ education plan that were made without consulting with Trevor, his parents, or the boy’s therapist. In particular, the time he was shadowed and observed was reduced from 900 minutes per week to 45, leaving large chunks of his time unaccounted for.
According to the family, this lack of observation led to a greater amount of time where he was sought out and harassed by bullies, leading him to believe he had to bring the knife, which they describe as a civil war relic rather than a large and dangerous weapon, in order to protect himself from what he perceived as a threatening and dangerous environment in the school.
The family says that the unexplained and unwarranted changes to his schedule caused Trevor to become fearful and depressed, leading to the breakdown in his mental state that lead to the shooting.