Broken Arrow Bus Driver Speaks On His Arrest After His Release From Jail

Prosecutors have declined to file charges against a Broken Arrow bus driver who was arrested last week. His attorney argued that Young was trying to follow the protocol of his job, while trying to keep kids safe, but was dealing with kids and parents who were acting out.

Friday, October 20th 2023, 5:16 pm



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A former Broken Arrow School bus driver was out of jail Friday after Tulsa County prosecutors decided not to file charges against him.

Thomas Young spent the last week in jail after Broken Arrow Police arrested him for refusing to let unruly kids off the bus. School administrators had warned the bus full of middle school students to behave twice.

Surprisingly, Thomas Young wasn't mad when he walked out of the Tulsa County jail Friday afternoon, and says he was just trying to do his job and follow the rules. Young's attorney says this situation should have never involved the police.

"I want to apologize to the parents that felt their children were threatened. I really, in a qualified way, understand why you were upset and why your children were frightened. I just really want to apologize. I know I can't make up for that. I just wanted to say that,” said Young.

Young spent seven nights in jail after being booked for kidnapping and child abuse and held on a $60,000 bond, which he couldn't afford.

"It was a very difficult first night, but after that, I was able to settle in and come to grips with my situation. The inmates were very helpful,” said Young.

Young pulled the bus over last Friday, and the bus video shows he told the kids repeatedly he wouldn't move until they sat down and got quiet. The district says he shouldn’t have pulled over on a busy street, but a safer place.

Related: Broken Arrow Public Schools Releases School Bus Camera Of Driver Incident

"I am only supposed to let off children at designated stops. I was going slow because the children were rowdy on the bus. There are certain guidelines: they have to be seated, I have to run a safe bus. I was taking a very long time, and parents were following me,” said Young.

The video didn't show a couple of students jumping out of the emergency exit at the back of the bus, which sounded an alarm. Young says it was too loud on the bus to hear it.

"The only thing I felt I did wrong was I kind of lost my cool on the bus. I should never lose my cool,” said Young. “As far as the charges, and as far as what happened, they have proven to be baseless, so I rest in that.” 

District Attorney A Steve Kunzweiler said that based on the information given to his office, this case wasn't kidnapping or child abuse, and they didn't believe a jury would convict Young, so they didn't file charges.

Read Tulsa County District Attorney's statement below:

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.

"I think it could have been handled more efficiently. I think an investigation could have been done, then I think if the DA wanted to file charges, at that point, an arrest warrant could have been issued, and then they could have been taken him into custody instead of having him languish over there for a week,” said Young’s attorney Miranda Snodgrass with Boeheim Freeman Law.

Even though a lot of people would be mad, Young is staying positive.

"This has actually been a very good experience for me, to humble me. I got to talk to a lot of inmates and see some come to Christ. God allowed this to purify me of certain things,” said Young. "Next for me, I've got to sit down and think about moving forward. I would love to drive bus, but I don't know if that is even going to be possible.”

Broken Arrow Police said in a statement that officers determined there was probable cause to make an arrest last Friday based on information from witnesses and victim statements.

Read Broken Arrow Police Department's statement below:

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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