The ref is seen being tackled to the ground before being pummeled
Felony charges were filed Friday against three youth football coaches and a 14-year-old player after a referee was attacked during a game last weekend in Sarasota, Fla.The Aug. 27 incident was caught on video. It shows the referee being tackled by the player during a melee at a game between two youth teams. Images show the incident growing from a confrontation to an all-out brawl on the field at Riverview High School in Sarasota.
During it, the referee is leveled by a player, with others joining the attack.
The referee had called the game — witnesses said he had been sprayed by water by a coach who was arguing a call, according to MySunCoast.com.
“The video speaks for itself,” Sheriff’s Col. Steve Burns said of the Sarasota police said. “It was disturbing.”
The three men were identified by the Tampa Tribune as Dexter Austin, 43, of Bradenton; Timothy Howard, 38, of Sarasota; Antonio Bradley, 28, of North Port.
All four face one count each of battery on a sports official, a third-degree felony. In addition, Howard was charged with misdemeanor battery after he assaulted a coach from the opposing team who was trying to break up the melee, sheriff’s officials told the newspaper.
The referee, 41-year-old Jayme Ream, has a broken shoulder.. He and North Port coach Christopher Smith were hit and kicked several times.
The video shows Ream trying to ward off the attack and throwing punches. Police officials said Ream was trying to defend himself.
Ream’s wife told WTSP TV after watching the video: “Couldn’t believe what I saw. These children and their parents doing this to my husband. He was just doing his job.”
Attacking an athletic official is a felony in Florida. If convicted the three men and the teen could face up to four years in prison.
Their team, identified as the Sarasota Gators, was expelled from the Middle Florida Football and Cheerleading Conference. Their opponent was North Port Huskies, and the league is for players age 13, 14 and 15, according to reports.
Ream issued a statement Friday, reading from prepared remarks, the Tampa Tribune reported.
“I have enjoyed being a referee for the past 14 years and look forward to continuing to do so for many years,” Ream said.
“Unfortunately, I believe this is a situation that involved people that let their emotions overcome them.”
According to city of Sarasota officials, the violent acts could also mean the team loses out on a chance at $25,000 in grants.
“We not are going to put tax dollars behind folks that seem like they can’t control themselves,” said city commissioner Shannon Snyder. “We have to make sure that the taxpayer’s money is being wisely spent.”
“Anytime you have something like that happen it will affect how you are viewed,” Snyder said of the brawl. “If that fight is any indication of the organization, the grant isn’t going to be something we approve.”