In a rare move, prosecutors have filed a criminal charge against a Platte County High School football player for an alleged attack on an opponent during a game.
Colin W. Byrd, 17, of Kansas City allegedly twisted the helmet off a Winnetonka High School player during a third-quarter play that ended with the two players tumbling out of bounds, court records said. Byrd then hit his opponent in the head with the helmet, the records say.
Prosecutors charged Byrd with misdemeanor assault.
The 17-year-old victim still has concussion symptoms, including nausea and memory loss, that have kept him from returning to school since the Oct. 18 game, Platte County prosecutors said. He did not play the rest of the season, which ended Nov. 11.
“I don’t believe what happened on that football field that night was football,” said Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd. “What happened there was not part of the play . It is our allegation that it went beyond the game of football and became an assault.”
This marks the first time his office has filed criminal charges in an incident that occurred during a sporting event, Zahnd said.
It also appears to be a rare occurrence in Missouri high school sports, a statewide high school activities group official said. And Zahnd said he was aware of only one similar case, from Pennsylvania, being charged nationwide.
Byrd’s attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Byrd is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 7.
A game official ejected Byrd and penalized his team for the conduct. The official told investigators he had never seen anything like it in more than 20 years of officiating football games, Zahnd said.
A North Kansas City School District assistant superintendent who witnessed the play up close from along the sideline told authorities that it appeared Byrd intentionally hit the victim, according to court records, which quote the district official as saying, “Byrd appeared to be angry and frustrated.”
The play happened during a third-quarter Winnetonka Griffins punt return for a touchdown that was called back on a separate penalty with the Griffins leading 42-12. As the Winnetonka ball carrier approached the end zone, another Winnetonka player cut in front of Byrd to block him, though Byrd trailed the ball carrier by at least 10 yards at the time.
When detectives questioned Byrd, he said the helmet “just kind of ended up in my right hand” and that he didn’t hit the victim with the helmet intentionally, according to court records.
“I just kind of threw it down behind me,” the document quotes him as saying.
Game footage obtained by detectives shows Byrd “bringing the helmet behind his back and then (he) swings the helmet forward,” according to the court document. Though bystanders mostly block the camera’s view of the victim, it appears he was on the ground when struck, the document says.
(The incident starts around the 1:30:41 mark in the video below)mozallowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen>