Washington State defensive linemen T.J. Fehoko and Robert Barber are facing second-degree assault charges stemming from a fight in July. Police are requesting charges against the players after interviewing witnesses and watching videos from the incident. The Pullman Police Department announced the decision on Friday at a joint press conference held with the WSU athletic department.
The case will be forwarded next week to the Whitman County Prosecutors office to determine which, if any, charges will be filed. According to witnesses, WSU football players instigated the fight by throwing fireworks into a crowd. Police say Fehoko and Barber both punched other subjects in the head. Dylan Axelson was also determined to have punched someone, but was acting in self defense. Some non-football players also face charges from the incident
Athletic Director Bill Moos said he expects all student athletes to “behave in a manner that is representative of the uniform they wear.” He said he would not further discuss ongoing legal matters.
The news comes nearly two months after a large fight involving multiple WSU football players and several students broke out outside a house party in Pullman. There were at least three injuries during the fight, with one student suffering a broken jaw. Police conducted an extensive investigation, interviewing 61 people, including 22 football players.
Earlier this week, Mike Leach accused the media and police of targeting WSU football players.
“If the other guilty parties are not accused or charged, there needs to be an extensive investigation as to why,” Leach said on Tuesday. “How in the world can only football parties be guilty in events depicted like this? It is irresponsible to this town, this community and everybody to have some kind of a double standard where we only focus on one demographic, one group of people and then drag their name through the newspaper with a bunch of irresponsible comments.”
The University Conduct Board expelled Barber from school on Thursday for his role in the incident. That decision was made independent of the police investigation. Barber has initiated an appeal of his expulsion.
It’s been an eventful week for the WSU football program and the Pullman Police department. On Monday, police recommended to the prosecutor that Shalom Luani face a second-degree assault charge stemming from an altercation outside of a Dominos. Also on Monday, WSU linebacker Logan Tago was arrested as part of an alleged incident that occurred in June when a group of people assaulted a man and stole his case of beer.
WSU President Kirk Shulz, Athletic Director Bill Moos and Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins met earlier this week to discuss the situations and improve the lines of communication in an effort to “ensure fairness is given to all involved.”
According to Stephanie Loh of the Seattle Times, WSU athletic department policy prohibits any student athlete charged with felony to continue to participate in their sport.
Here is the full release from the police department.
Here is the press release we have been handed. Non football players will also be charged. pic.twitter.com/3mdBXJx0vw— Jacob Thorpe (@JacobThorpeSR) September 16, 2016