Two more Washington State football players were arrested Friday due to a July 23 party brawl that sent two people to the hospital and left several injured. The Pullman Police Department released the students later, though it recommended prosecutors to field charges of second-degree assault against the WSU football players.
The arrested athletes were identified as Robert Barber, a defensive tackle, and Toso (T.J.) Fehoko, a defensive lineman. They were easily identified due to a video recorded at the party during the quarrel. The recommendations of the charges were confirmed by Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins at a conference with the athletic director Bill Moos on Friday afternoon. Baker and Fehoko were later released following the standard of the police department for people that are not considered a risk or a danger to the community.
If Barber and Fehoko are charged with second-degree assault, it would bring to four the number of Washington State University’s football players involved in legal troubles.
“Part of the reason we’re able to identify these two is that part of it was on video,” Jenkins said. “I think that somewhat points to the vulnerability of student-athletes that a lot of them are very recognizable in the community and it makes them much easier to identify than students not involved in athletics.”
The police department is focused on football players
A video recorded on July 23 showed several WSU students involved in a fight in the backyard of a house party. Apparently, during the quarrel nose defensive, Robert Barber, knocked one person identified as Jackson Raney and left him unconscious on the ground, while his partner Fehoko broke Alexander Rodriguez’s jaw.
They were sent to Pullman Regional Hospital for treatment. The Pullman Police Department interviewed 61 witnesses out of more than a hundred people that were in the place that night. Among the witnesses, there were 22 WSU football players who cooperated with police.
Unlike the disclaimers made by the department, Football coach Mike Leach assures that the Pullman Police appears to be focused on arresting football players. He admitted that he was concerned that the only people being accused in recent incidents are football players from the Cougar Team.
Jenkins said that the department is not only recommending charges on the two football players. Other two people, not related to the football team, were involved in the party fight in July and police has also recommended charges against them.
He also highlighted that it is the department’s duty to recommend the charges to be filled, but it is totally up to the prosecutor to decide if the players are finally charged or not with second-degree assault.
“Our department is not targeting football players,” Jenkins said at a press conference in Pullman. “Our investigators and detectives investigate their interactions based on the evidence that’s presented to them,” he added.
‘Don’t judge the athletic program by a couple of incidents like this’
Certainly, it hasn’t been a good season for the WSU football team. Before the arrest of Barber and Fehoko on assault, Logan Tago, another WSU was arrested on Monday due to assault suspicions.
The police also recommended charges against Tago and another football player, Shalom Luani, both on assault but due to separate incidents.
Leach said that the football team has struggled lately besides the legal problems that these four students have faced. The team lost to Eastern Washington and Boise State in the first two games.
He wants the players to be tougher. He also said that his decision regarding the legal problems is to believe that players are innocent until they are proven guilty.
The team is hosting a game against Idaho on Saturday. The Washington State athletic director, Bill Moos, said that it is up to Leach if the athletes involved in the legal accusations will play.
However, it was said that 6-3, 305-pound fifth-year senior nose tackle Barber, will be probably backed up by Ngalu Tapa, a 319-pound third-year sophomore. Tapa played in four games last year as a freshman.
“Don’t judge the athletic program by a couple of incidents like this,” said Bill Moos regarding the issue with the assault accusations, highlighting that there are more than 450 student-athletes and it is just a really small group who is now facing legal problems.
Leach also noted that since he arrived in Pullman in the 2012 season, the police department has had few incidents involving athletes from The Cougar team.
Source: Herald Net