EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSEMBASSY SUITES ARRESTS
from Eyewitness News Online
West Liberty Athletic Director Released From Jail; Statements Made In Fight Aftermath
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Mar. 3, 2013 4:31 PM EST
Updated: Mar. 5, 2013 10:47 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The athletic director at West Liberty State University has been released from jail in Kanawha County.
A fight after the West Virginia Conference men's basketball championship game at the Charleston Civic Center, ended with him and three others in jail.
City police said Hilltoppers’ fans, staff and players were celebrating at Embassy Suites when the party got out of control.
Police said they tried to get everyone to go to their rooms but a fight broke out. West Liberty Athletic Director James Watson was arrested when police said he tried to intervene while his son Brian was being arrested.
Police said Watson’s son took off and was later arrested.
Police said West Liberty football player Tyler Tucci had to be pepper sprayed, and West Liberty volleyball player Gabrielle Davis also was arrested.
The president of the college, Robin Capehart, issued a statement, standing by the athletic director and saying he looks forward to the judicial process, regarding the matter.
Police said the accounts from witnesses are all the same and the officers acted appropriately.
"What contributed to this most of all is what appears to be a large consumption of alcohol,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston Police Department said. “When you're intoxicated, you make poor decisions. Unfortunately, there were a couple of people who made very poor decisions and became hostile toward the police."
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones released a statement Monday, defending the actions of officers who arrested West Liberty University’s athletic director and several students following a fight after a men’s basketball championship game.
The arrests occurred at the Embassy Suites Saturday following West Liberty’s victory at the Charleston Civic Center in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship game.
"Because of the attention this matter has received through the news media and social media, the city of Charleston feels compelled to respond to the events of Saturday evening at the Embassy Suites,” Jones said. “First and foremost, I hope people will understand that the Charleston Police Department did not ask to be called to the Embassy Suites, but were called by people at the hotel when they felt the situation was beyond their control.
“When our first two officers responded to that call for help, they encountered a loud and boisterous crowd of about 200 people in the main atrium of the hotel and in common areas of floors above them. The officers called for backup in hopes that the crowd then might disperse peacefully. After reading the police reports about the incident, including the accounts of several independent eyewitnesses, I stand completely behind the actions of the Charleston Police Department.
"Our city is happy to host athletic events that bring people to Charleston to support their favorite teams, and we hope that the college basketball tournament will return to our city next year and beyond. We want people to come to Charleston and enjoy themselves. Yet we also hope that all people will conduct themselves appropriately. From what I have learned about the situation, I believe our officers did respond appropriately to this call for help."
A fight after the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship landed West Liberty University's athletic director and some students in jail Saturday night.
Charleston police said West Liberty fans, staff and players were celebrating at the Embassy Suites after the team's victory at the Charleston Civic Center on Saturday when the party got out of control.
Police said they tried to get everyone to go to their rooms, but, instead, a fight broke out.
West Liberty Athletic Director James Watson was arrested and charged with obstruction and battery on an officer.
Police said he tried to intervene when they were arresting his son Brian, who took off. Brian Watson is charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing on foot.
West Liberty football player Tyler Tucci is charged with obstructing. Police said he had to be pepper sprayed.
And West Liberty volleyball player Gabrielle Davis was arrested and charged with obstructing.
"Jim Watson is a dignified, well-respected gentleman who has been nationally recognized as an athletics administrator during four decades of dedicated service. West Liberty University, and I personally, fully support Jim,” West Liberty University President Robin C. Capehart said in a statement. "Based on the account of more than two dozen eye witnesses to whom I've spoken, we look forward to the judicial process with regard to this matter.""
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