updated: Video footage from Huron-Pioneer football brawl released by Ann Arbor police
Editor's note: The story has been updated with a higher quality version of the video that we believe provides a clearer understanding of what went on after the game.
Ann Arbor police released video footage of the brawl between the Huron and Pioneer high school football teams Tuesday, with one view showing the moment a player appears to swing a crutch toward a group of players.
AnnArbor.com received the video footage through a Freedom of Information Act request, along with the entire police report from the incident. Charges are pending against Bashir Garain, 18, while more players involved in the brawl also are expected to be charged.
The videos show the football players lined up for the postgame handshake, greeting each other on the field. Their attention is turned by the confrontation between the coaches and players from both sides rush toward them to get involved. The melee intensifies from there.
The player police identified as Garain is seen handing one of his crutches off to another student at the 45 second mark. Seven seconds later, the other crutch is swinging through the air.
The brawl has resulted in both Huron head coach Cory Gildersleeve and Pioneer head coach Paul Test resigning their positions. Vincent Wortmann, the Pioneer coach who shoved Gildersleeve when the two head coaches met at midfield for the postgame handshake, was fired for his part in the brawl.
Washtenaw County prosecutors did not charge Wortmann with any crime. They said he used a legal amount of force in defending Test, who he believed was in danger of becoming involved in a physical confrontation with Gildersleeve.
Eight players from Huron and six players from Pioneer were suspended due to the fight. Garain was kicked off the team for his involvement, as was another Pioneer player. The other suspended players played in Pioneer's playoff game after serving their suspensions.
Ann Arbor police investigators reviewed four videos of the brawl as a part of their investigation: Two provided by CTN without audio; one by parent Richie Coleman; and one compiled version provided to the school district by CTN immediately after the game.
Among the other evidence seized by police, according to the report, was the crutch believed to have been Garain's; three photos published by AnnArbor.com; and photos of injured Huron player Will Harris’ jersey. Harris was the only player reported injured in the incident. He told investigators he was kicked in the face.
The alleged assault on Harris is not immediately clear from video footage.
AnnArbor.com received the 59-page police report, which details the work done by Ann Arbor police and Washtenaw County prosecutors investigating the incident. In addition to the statements by the officers who were at the game and were witnesses to the brawl, police interviewed 22 people in their investigation.
AnnArbor.com continues to review these statements. The video shown here is two clips of the video footage received by AnnArbor.com. The video was trimmed to show just the incident, removing extraneous footage and this particular clip was chosen due to the quality of the images and the camera angle.
Garain’s attorney Walter White has previously told AnnArbor.com his client maintains his innocence. He’s pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and two misdemeanor charges of assault and battery. He waived a preliminary exam on Dec. 6.
His case has been bound over to the Washtenaw County Trial Court, and he’s scheduled to attend a pretrial hearing at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 29 in front of Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Donald Shelton.
Ann Arbor Public Schools conducted their own internal investigation of the football brawl. The investigation was completed Oct. 18.
At a recent Board of Education meeting, school board members discussed revisiting how the district handled the football brawl as a case study for looking at student and adult discipline policies and procedures.
Two trustees, Simone Lightfoot and Susan Baskett, requested to review the district’s investigative materials, including the video footage of the brawl. After a spirited discussion among the board, and in particular between Lightfoot and Superintendent Patricia Green, the administration agreed to make the investigative materials available for the board to come in and review after the holiday break and to ask questions of school officials.
One of Lightfoot’s complaints was the board has not been privy to formal requests made by the public and the media pertaining to the brawl. Lightfoot said she learned more about the brawl by reading media reports than through the administration. She argued the board should have been better informed in the wake of the brawl.
Peter Cunningham, Melanie Maxwell and Danielle Arndt all contributed to this report.