Updated: 8:45 p.m. | Posted: 3:15 p.m.
A judge has ordered a student accused of attacking a staffer at his Minneapolis school to be released to his family.
Judge William Koch allowed Corey Burfield, 18, who's suspected in the assault on Harrison Education Center teaching assistant Mohammed Dukuly, 44, to be released without bond but he must be on electronic home monitoring.
Meanwhile, a family member said Dukuly is speaking, breathing on his own, and sitting up in a chair. His uncle, also named Mohammed Dukuly, said the teacher's assistant may soon leave HCMC's intensive care unit.
In court Thursday, public defender Douglas Myren said his client suffers from mental health issues that require medications and therapy. Myren argued for Burfield's release from jail, saying the young man would be vulnerable in the general population and his condition could worsen in solitary confinement.
Reached by phone after the hearing, Myren declined to comment further because he's still learning about Burfield's background. The student's family members at the hearing declined to be interviewed.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says he is sympathetic to Burfield's mental health situation, but still plans to prosecute him to the fullest extent possible.
"He assaulted someone who in many ways could have died. But for the grace of God he has not. We just can't allow this," Freeman said.
Freeman said the case highlights the importance of having police assigned to schools because a resource officer saw the attack, stopped it as fast as he could, and acted quickly to render aid. Prosecutors say Burfield was seen on surveillance camera footage knocking Dukuly to the ground and punching him.
Harrison Education Center has a recent history of violence. Service call data from the Minneapolis Police Department show 35 assaults reported there in 2015, and two dozen the following year.
But those numbers appear to be on a downward trajectory. MPD received 11 assault calls in the last calendar year and just one in the first four months of 2018. The police data are current as of May 1, so Tuesday's attack is not included.
Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff said he can't discuss the specifics of the incident because of the ongoing investigation and data privacy laws. But he told reporters Thursday that school staff are looking into what led up to the attack.
"The safety and well being of our students and staff is paramount," Graff said. "And so we want to make sure that we're putting the supports in place to ensure as best as possible that our students and staff are being well taken care of and are safe in our schools."
After the court hearing, Dukuly's uncle said he was concerned about Burfield's release, "Assuming that he has some mental issues, this is a public safety concern. So how do we handle that? Because he has mental issues we should let him in the street?"
In addition to electronic monitoring, Koch also ordered Burfield to stay away from Dukuly and meet with a mental health professional within two weeks. Burfield's mother told the court that she is able to supervise her son. He's scheduled to appear in court again on June 22.
MPR News reporter Brandt Williams contributed to this report.