Josie Howell, Sports Editor
Following a Jacksonville State University win on February 20 at the Pete Mathews Coliseum a Southeastern Missouri men’s basketball player allegedly assaulted a JSU student.
Tyler Gray, the victim of the alleged assault, claimed that he was spit on and punched by SEMO guard Khalil Cuffee following a disappointing loss for the Redhawks.
The following day, it was announced on the official twitter page for the Redhawks and through the Southeastern Missouri Athletic Board that Cuffee was officially removed from the team after being a member of their team since 2017.
“I was made aware of the situation immediately after the game and I notified the Director of Athletics at Southeast Missouri that evening,” said JSU Athletic Director Greg Seitz. “He was already aware of the situation and he immediately apologized.”
“We spoke again on Friday and he stated the player was no longer a member of the team and again apologized on behalf of their department,” said Seitz. “We have a great game day atmosphere and we will review our basketball game day policies and procedures to ensure the safety of our fans remain a top priority.“
Gray said the incident occurred as SEMO was walking off the court after the game. He said he was in the student section, at the end corner and that Cuffee said something he couldn’t hear. Gray said he then shouted that he couldn’t hear Cuffee and that Cuffee then spat on him.
“As I looked down at the spit on my shirt he sucker punched me in the jaw and continued walking through their tunnel,” said Gray.
Gray only sustained a minor injury to his lip. While Cuffin was not arrested, Gray was given the option to press criminal charges.
“I immediately saw red and looked to the SEMO women’s team that saw [what happened] as well as the men’s team players and managers to make sure they saw and they walked out laughing about it. Then I went to the lobby and found the UPD police that usually stand in the tunnel where it happened, and told them what happened,” said Gray.
According to Gray, the officer asked if he wanted to file a report and then informed him that they could not arrest Cuffee because they did not see it happen.
“…the UPD officer went on to tell me if I had a problem with them not being able to do anything to ‘Take it up with George Washington, the founding father of our country.’”
Sergeant Madrigal, who allegedly made the comment, did not recall using the phrase about George Washington. Later, he elaborated that he was referring to the Alabama constitution that lays out the due process of law and the powers of law enforcement. This states that a police officer is not allowed to make any arrests for misdemeanor charges unless there is an officer present to witness what occurred.
“No one was arrested and there are no charges being pressed at this time. Code 15-10-3 [per Alabama Code of Law] dictates when an officer can make a warrantless arrest and if it’s considered a misdemeanor, and I believe this case was, the officer has to see it physically happen,” said UPD Chief of Police Rob Schaffer.
“There are a few exceptions in the law, like domestic violence,” said Schaffer. “But for this incident, it does not allow that exception and so what would happen is every citizen has a right to press criminal charges and talk to a magistrate who can then issue a warrant then the officer can make the arrest.”
Gray said that he originally began to press charges against Cuffee, but later decided to drop charges after he was made aware that Cuffee was removed from the Redhawks team and that he felt pressing charges was no longer necessary.