You decide: Is this coach who wrestled a drug dealer a hero or villain? [VIDEO]

Robby Soave Reporter
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A California high school suspended a science teacher and wrestling coach after the man fought with a student, but other students have jumped to the coach’s defense — and eyewitnesses say he merely pinned a troublesome classroom drug dealer.

Mark Black, a teacher and wrestling coach at Santa Monica High School in California, was suspended after video footage surfaced of him fighting with a student in a classroom, according to Legal Insurrection.

Upon close inspection of the video, however, it does not seem that Black hit the student. Rather, he merely tried to pin him to the ground — and eventually succeeded.

Several students told KTLA 5 that the student Black pinned is a drug dealer, and was selling drugs in the classroom in full view of Black. When Black tried to stop him, the teen struck him in the face.

“The little boy was selling drugs in class and the wrestling coach told him to stop,” said one student.

Still, District Superintendent Sandra Lyon said Black’s actions were unacceptable.

“I have placed the teacher on leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation,” said Lyon in a statement.

The community is rallying behind Black. The “We Support Coach Black” Facebook group has more than 13,000 Likes.

A former district official, Steven Martinez, wrote on the Facebook page that Black did only what needed to be done.

“He did in fact try to resolve this situation peacefully by asking the student to turn over the drugs to him,” said Martinez. “The student resisted and became aggressive … Support this great teacher and wonderful person. He needs us at this time.”

The Los Angeles Times’s Robin Abcarian called Black a “hero to exasperated teachers everywhere.”

“I have to admit I got a little shiver of satisfaction knowing that a teacher who just happens to be a wrestler was able to physically subdue a student who may have been flagrantly violating the rules,” she wrote. “A student  flashing drugs in the classroom is a provocation that no teacher should ignore.”

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