In September, Murray State guard Zay Jackson was charged with two counts of first-degree assault after an altercation in which he allegedly hit two people with his white Monte Carlo in the parking lot of a Murray, Ky., Walmart. He was suspended indefinitely by Murray State. On Friday, Jackson pleaded guilty to charges of wanton endangerment and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, part of a plea agreement that includes community service and completion of an anger management course.
After the sentencing, Murray State athletic director Allen Ward reiterated the school's punishment to the Murray Ledger & Times, saying that while Jackson "made a mistake," the guard was "still a very big part of this program." On Monday afternoon, Murray State coach Steve Prohm confirmed this stance to ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil, saying via text message, "There is no change [in Zay Jackson's status]. As of right now, he is still suspended indefinitely.''
That stance almost certainly has to change.
After Jackson completed his plea agreement Friday and began his 30-day sentence, Murray police released surveillance footage of Jackson's altercation with Jason and Alia Clement. WPSD6 has the video, which you can watch here. Word of warning: It isn't pretty.
Through a variety of angles, the silent video shows Jackson push a shopping cart into the accusing couple's car. The Clements then confront Jackson, appearing to take a photo of his rear license plate, when Jackson bumps Jason Clement with his rear bumper twice. The Murray State player then quickly wheels around to place the couple at the front of his car, and accelerates rapidly -- knocking one to the side while carrying the other on his hood for another 100-plus feet -- before braking suddenly and speeding out of the lot. The video is clear: Jackson's use of his automobile is violent, scary, and entirely unjustifiable, no matter what words were exchanged.
The horrifying footage is sure to go viral, if it hasn't already. It is also sure to place an immense amount of pressure on Murray State to change their stance on Jackson's status.
Jackson is a promising backcourt player, a likely counterpart alongside probable preseason All-American Isaiah Canaan, and a piece the Racers would no doubt like to have on their roster. But this incident, no matter Jackson's import or previous record of good behavior, goes above and beyond any desire to provide a troubled player a second chance. It will be difficult for Murray State fans to reconcile the fact that Jackson is earning a scholarship to play basketball at their school, knowing he showed such willful disregard for another person's life. And it will be almost impossible for Murray State to justify a mere suspension, indefinite or otherwise, now that the video is out.
It is never fun to call for a collegiate player to be dismissed. It almost never feels right. This is an exception to that rule. Whatever Murray State chooses, the entire situation is already a shame -- a shame Jackson will have fully brought on himself.