LWPD Release Video of Altercation in Lake Wales High Gym; Coach Remains Suspended
Wed. April 18, 2012 at 11:04 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
This screen capture from a video released on Wednesday shows the incident on March 23 in the Lake Wales High School gym. (LAKE WALES POLICE DEPARTMENT)
By PHIL ATTINGER
LAKE WALES | A surveillance video made available by the Lake Wales Police Department shows that high school boys basketball coach Billy Dee Washington was not near an altercation that resulted in a student being charged with battery.
Daquand Devonte Marion, 18, of Lake Wales has been charged with battery in an incident that involved a 17-year-old female student about 9:25 a.m. March 23 in the Lake Wales High School gym.
Washington, who was in the gym at the time, has been on paid administrative leave since the day of the incident. The coach led the Highlanders to the Class 5A state championship this past March.
The camera, in the northwest corner of the gym, has a wide-angle lens that shows a group of students shooting basketballs on the north end of the gym, the side nearest to the camera.
The quality of the video is such that none of the faces are clear for anyone more than 10 yards from the camera.
While he cannot be identified on the video, Washington was seated at desk working on his laptop on the south end of the gym, said Robin Gibson, general counsel for Lake Wales Charter Schools.
"It's the furthest point from the action he could be and still be in the gym," Gibson said.
Deputy Chief Troy Schulze, relaying information from School Resource Officer Jonathan Fletcher, said Washington was in the gym at the time, but doesn't appear to be in the 4-minute, 20-second video because he was seated outside the camera's field of view.
The video does not show Washington getting up either during the incident or before it happened, contrary to a statement by Marion, who said the coach told him and some other boys to stop their horseplay before the incident with the girl.
The video also does not include any sound, so it can't be determined if anyone gave commands to the students.
School officials have recommended Marion to the Polk County School District for expulsion but have declined to comment on Washington's suspension.
Washington could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His attorney, Breezi Stanislaus, also had no comment at this time.
Gibson said Wednesday that he expects to have a meeting with Stanislaus today.
He also said that meetings and a formal hearing have been delayed because she has asked for more time.
The incident on March 23 began when Marion and other boys were horseplaying in the gym, police reported.
On the video they can be seen sparring and wrestling while other students are shooting baskets.
Marion told a reporter on April 3 that he was on the floor when he had a confrontation with the girl.
According to the video, they fought for about 14 seconds.
Neither he nor the girl were in Washington's class, Marion said, but were in a weight lifting class led by another coach.
It is not known where that other coach was.
The image on the video is not clear enough to identify the girl or Marion, but police have identified them as the two figures shown during the confrontation.
The girl can be seen nudging Marion with her foot while he was on the gym floor about 1:50 into the video.
The video then shows several boys piling on top of Marion for about 30 seconds after that, similar to a tackle pile in football.
After the pile broke up, Marion chased down one of the boys and pinned him to the floor.
Marion stayed on the floor as the other boy got up. During this time, the girl was playing basketball with one of the other boys.
After a few moments, the video shows Marion getting off the floor and charging the girl. The video shows him grabbing, dragging and pushing her around.
She punched him — she told police she did that so he would let go.
She did get away for a moment but Marion pursued her. He grabbed her again, picked her up, and slammed her down.
The girl landed on her shoulders and the back of her head.
Ten seconds after she hit the floor, another student gave her his hand and pulled her up off the floor.
The video did not support Marion's statements to school officials that girl punched him in the face while he was playing with friends, and that when he tried to restrain her, he accidentally dropped her on the floor.
Police reports said statements from other students matched his story, but were refuted by the security camera video that backed up her story.
Marion was charged with simple battery and released from the Polk County Jail on March 24.