Washington State coach Mike Leach took a strong stance Tuesday night after the Cougars’ practice when he gathered reporters around him and read from a prepared statement in which he expressed that he thought WSU football players had been unfairly targeted by the Pullman Police Department in recent months. Leach made his comments in response to three different incidents in which WSU football players have been implicated.
The first instance in the comments below refers to a fight that broke out at an off-campus party in late July. WSU football players were accused of breaking one WSU student’s jaw and giving another student a concussion. This case is still under investigation by Pullman Police.
The second incident Leach described was in relation to the case in which free safety Shalom Luani was accused of punching a WSU student in the face and breaking his nose in an altercation outside a pizza joint in Pullman. Pullman Police said Tuesday that they have finished investigating the case and that it is currently being transferred to the Whitman County prosecutor’s office for further review. The Pullman Police recommended that Luani be charged with second degree assault.
The third incident Leach refers to is in reference to the case in which linebacker Logan Tago was arrested in suspicion of felony assault and robbery. Pullman Radio reported Tuesday that in June, Tago allegedly stole another man’s beer and left the victim with a concussion.
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Jacob Thorpe of the Spokesman-Review posted the transcript of Leach’s comments as follows.
It is irresponsible to this town, this community and everybody to have some kind of a double standard where we only focus on one demographic, one group of people and then drag their name through the newspaper with a bunch of irresponsible comments.
WSU coach Mike Leach
“No one has been found guilty. Some have not been arrested. None are charged. Comments to the media have distorted the facts and already condemned football players in the court of public opinion.
Many of the statements are incomplete or totally false. I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place, which is presume them innocent until proven guilty. Quick review without going into too much – and this is far short of maligned statements that have been in the newspaper:
First instance. Brawl at a party, the whole room is involved. Room erupts in a brawl. Everybody’s hitting everybody. The only guys accused of doing anything are football players. The only guys accused of anything are football players. Where’s everybody else? What about the other 100 people in the room? What was their role?
Second incident. A football player is jumped and his shirt is ripped off. Jumped by five to six people. His shirt is ripped off, as he’s leaving a place. The only guy arrested is the football player. Only guy arrested? Unless he somehow single-handedly started a fight with six people.
Third incident. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know any of the details. It happened four months ago. Why didn’t this surface four months ago?
Unless we are supposed to believe that these football players fought themselves, then there are numerous other guilty parties. That is clearly the case. If any of these allegations are true, I have not read anyone else’s name in the newspaper. “Unidentified males.” Nor any elaboration on their role in these events. Clearly, if these things happened, their role was extensive.
If the other guilty parties are not accused or charged, there needs to be an extensive investigation as to why. How in the world can only football parties be guilty in events depicted like this? It is irresponsible to this town, this community and everybody to have some kind of a double standard where we only focus on one demographic, one group of people and then drag their name through the newspaper with a bunch of irresponsible comments.
We can’t allow the double standard. Because of all these inconsistencies, all I’m left with is to presume them innocent until proven guilty, which is what I should have done in the first place. With that said, if they have charges, fine. We’re going to let the legal system take its course. But the system has to be checked if with the number of people involved in these incidents the only ones accused are football players. If that’s the case, then something is seriously wrong, which goes far deeper than whatever has even been alleged. And whatever has even been alleged is only fractionally accurate.”