Cameron Thompson of Tequesta, Florida was arrested on March 16 for his alleged connection to an assault in December 2016 that left Clayton Stewart Kelly of West Palm Beach hospitalized for months. Thompson, 19, is being charged with one count of felony battery.
Thompson was released on Thursday afternoon on a $10,000 bond. Court records show that a judge ordered him not to have any weapons or contact with Kelly. The judge also permitted Thompson to continue attending his school in Tallahassee until his next court appearance on April 17. News sources did not say where he is a student.
According to the police report, the alleged incident took place after 2 a.m. on December 28 outside of an Italian restaurant called Cucina dell’Arte on 257 Royal Poinciana Way in Palm Beach. Friends of the two teens who witnessed the alleged assault in the restaurant parking lot told police that Thompson punched Kelly, 18, in the face, causing him to stumble backward and hit his head.
One of the witnesses reportedly called emergency services after noticing that Kelly was “twitching oddly” on the ground. Paramedics found Kelly laying on the ground and bleeding out of his mouth during the early hours of the morning.
Kelly was taken to Good Samaritan Medical Center for treatment and was later transferred to St. Mary’s Medical Center because of a “traumatic brain injury.” He was moved again three days later to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
Dr. John Ragheb, who treated Kelly at Nicklaus, told police that the teen was unresponsive when he arrived at the hospital and that he wouldn’t open his eyes or respond to pain. Doctors tried to control the pressure in his brain, but according to Dr. Ragheb, Kelly will likely sustain “permanent injury to his cognitive function.” The doctor told investigators that Kelly would not be the same person he was before the incident.
Less than 10 minutes after police and rescue personnel arrived at the scene, Thompson purportedly left in an Uber with two other people at the corner of Coconut Row and Royal Poinciana Way.
The exact cause of the altercation is still unclear, but friends of the two young men reportedly told investigators that the pair had a disagreement about something a week before that likely led Thompson to punch Kelly. The police report did not say what exactly happened.
Kelly is currently receiving treatment at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which specializes in brain and spinal cord rehabilitation. According to his page on CaringBridge.org, he is now eating solid food and will soon have his feeding tube removed. The press tried to contact relatives of both young men, but they reportedly could not be reached by phone.
In the state of Florida, felony battery is defined as the intentional striking of another person against their will, causing great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability. The main distinction between felony battery, aggravated battery, and misdemeanor battery is the amount of harm that is inflicted. Felony battery is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.