No criminal charges filed yet after in-game brawl between AAU players, referees
Criminal charges have not been filed after a Sunday brawl between players and referees at an AAU tournament near Atlanta, per Kyle Teems, chief of police in Emerson, Georgia.
"We haven't had anybody come forward to file a report on it," Teems told ESPN. "Obviously, there is something that happened there. No one has come forward yet."
According to videos that circulated online, players for R.A.W. Athletics, a Chicago-based grass-roots squad, fought with referees at The Association tournament at the LakePoint Sporting Community complex in Emerson on Sunday.
Teems said the videos of the fight have not helped officers determine who was at fault.
"What I've seen is probably the same thing you've seen," he said. "It's just clips. At this point, there is no way [to tell]. I wouldn't even suggest one way or the other."
Teems said his officers responded to the scene after someone called 911 to report the incident.
The videos show a referee and a player arguing and, it seems, preparing to fight before the referee is slammed to the ground by one of the player's teammates. That commenced in a brawl between players and multiple referees who ran onto the court, and the melee spilled into the stands.
The referee who was punched by one of the players has not talked to police, according to Teems.
Two opposing narratives, however, emerged from the fight. Howard Martin, head coach of R.A.W. Athletics, said the referee is to blame for the drama that unfolded. "At the end of the game, one of my players was complaining about a call," Martin told ESPN. "He made a comment to the referee. The ref didn't like it. So the other team inbounded the ball, walked it up, the ref said to my player, 'Say it again.' Then he T'd him up and kicked him out of the game. And he walked behind him, still having words. Then the ref pushed my player, and they squared up right by my bench. When they squared up, another one of my players jumped off the bench and took [the ref] down. We separated them."
Bobby Benjamin, head coach of the Houston Raptors squad that played Martin's team, had a different account of the incident. He said Martin instigated the fight by telling the referee he would "whip your ass" at the start of the game.
He also said the viral video clips of the brawl fail to show what started the altercation: a R.A.W. Athletics player bumped the referee and then punched him after a technical foul call.
"The referee definitely didn't attack the kids," Benjamin said. "Absolutely not. Once things got going, and he was attacked ... he got assaulted. They were too outnumbered to even try to defend themselves."
Teems said his officers will continue to investigate the incident, but he's not sure any charges will ever be filed.
He said the referee at the center of the incident told security personnel at the event he wasn't sure if he would press charges. If he or others do not come forward, Teems said, the case could be closed without any legal implications.
"Again, it's early in the investigation, so I can't say one way or the other," he said.