Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Platte County High School football player charged with assault following incident in game against Winnetonka High

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 12:56 PM

click to enlarge Prosecutor Eric Zahnd believes an incident during a high school football game crossed the line into criminal activity.
  • Prosecutor Eric Zahnd believes an incident during a high school football game crossed the line into criminal activity.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd brought misdemeanor assault charges against 17-year-old Kansas City football player Colin Byrd for removing an opposing football player's helmet and striking him with it during an October football game.

The formal charges were brought little more than a month after Byrd, playing football for Platte County R-III High School, was tossed out of a game against Winnetonka High School for an incident that left the opposing player with concussion symptoms.

It was just after halftime of an October 18 game in Platte City while a Winnetonka player was about to score a touchdown that Byrd and another Winnetonka player, identified in court documents as "J.R.," got tangled up and went out of bounds. A game official told investigators that he saw Byrd remove J.R.'s helmet once they were out of bounds and then hit J.R. in the head with his own helmet. Referees called a penalty against Byrd and ejected him from the game.

J.R. went to the Platte City Police Department four days after the game to report the assault. Just two days later, Byrd went to the police, accompanied by his father and an attorney, Anthony Sicola.

Sicola was not immediately available for comment, but Byrd told a police officer during the October 24 interview that he didn't hit J.R. intentionally.

"His helmet ended up in my hand and I just went back to throw it behind me and ended up hitting him," Byrd told police, according to police records. 

Platte City police reviewed the video of the play and described it this way: "Byrd can be seen grabbing both the facemask and the back of J.R.'s helmet as they go out of bounds. Both players go to the ground and as Byrd rolls up to his feet he can be seen with J.R.'s helmet in his right hand. Byrd can be seen bringing the helmet behind his back and then swings the helmet forward."

"Football players consent to physical contact and the possibility of injury every time they walk onto the field. And even conduct that draws a penalty is almost never criminal," Zahnd said in a written statement to media. "In this case, however, we allege what happened that night was not football."

Misdemeanor assault charges can carry probation and, in some cases, up to a year in county jail.

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